I had the privilege recently of speaking at the 2017 Barnes Buchanan Security Conference on the topic: Capitalize on Trends Redefining Selling in the Security Industry. As with many industries, competition and customers’ buying habits continue to influence the security industry marketplace. But, no matter what industry you’re selling in, here are some lessons to learn from the situation and my presentation.
Sly competition from outside companies
The Security Industry is facing many new “wily” competitors in the form of cable companies and internet providers who are now offering security services in addition to entertainment and broadband access. These companies don’t necessarily have to deploy a separate dedicated sales staff to qualify security leads, they simply can use their vast customer service team to cross-sell services to their existing customer base. Even without a strong sales plan, these companies can probably pick off some security business just by having a vast existing customer base to cross-sell into.
Not what they do, but what you do
It’s a formidable threat, but no matter what kind of competition a business faces, rather than focusing on what the competitor is doing or what they might do, time is better spent helping your sales team focus on what your company does well. Help your sales team understand specifically why customers choose you over your competitors or no one at all – then help them articulate it in their own words. And have them narrow their focus on those targeted customers that make the most sense for your company.
Guide your team
Unfortunately, if we assume that the salespeople understand these principles, and we don’t articulate it for them, they will tend to make it up on their own. This usually means they’ll lean on price. Unless you want to be the low-cost provider, it’s key to help the sales team internalize and vocalize what it is your business really does for your customers and why they choose you.
As an example, here are some answers we recently received while evaluating a new client on ways we could help. We asked all the salespeople to tell us what their value proposition was. Here’s a sampling of what we heard:
“I truly believe that XYZ Security offers the best value for my clients’ dollar.” – Robert
“Interactive home security, offered and sold by professionals that care.” – Tim
“We give people peace of mind without them having to feel as if they’re being cheated in any kind of way.” – Fritz
“Offering monitoring rates to businesses and homeowners at an affordable rate.” – Angela
“We are worth it.” – Greg
“We take pride in providing quality products and service as well as offering complete customer satisfaction.” – Cynthia
“Customer service is first.” – Nick
These answers demonstrate how the sales team was focused on the different elements of:
Unfocused would be a better way to put it. With a value proposition this muddy, it was no wonder the sales team needed our help. Of course, messaging is just a starting point, but you must get it right first. A clear value proposition also helps deal with marketplace changes in the ways buyers now buy in an internet influenced world.
There has been much written about social selling and the associated changes in buying habits. Some consultants even predict that many salespeople will lose their jobs simply because they will no longer be necessary. While this may be true for some services that are bought and sold online, sales of most products and services in the future will continue to need human interaction.
What has certainly changed is that buyers tend to be further along their buying path when they finally engage with sellers today. Because so much information has been created for potential buyers to peruse, information that the internet makes easily accessible; buyers tend to think they know everything about a product or service. For these very reasons, salespeople are more important than ever.
A good kind of salesperson is needed:
- The kind of salesperson that can actually conduct a non-threatening, comfortable conversation with a potential customer to determine what their motivations are.
- The kind of salesperson that can earn trust and respect from potential buyers.
- The kind of salesperson that will be viewed as an additive to the purchasing process and will be valued by the buyer.
Fortunately, these types of salespeople exist; however, they are not as common as we would like.
Salespeople at risk and those to keep
It is true that some salespeople will be unnecessary in the future, the ones who can be easily replaced with flashy presentations that spew facts.
The elite salespeople, those in the top 7% of all salespeople cannot be replaced, though. These are the salespeople that absolutely make a difference.
The next 16% of salespeople are strong and frequently can grow into being elite. They are also clearly better than most and can make a difference in your sales success.
That means 77% are not really that great, even weak. If these salespeople can’t be advanced quickly, through a great training and development program coupled with excellent accountability measures and coaching, they must be replaced with others that will sell in a consultative effective fashion.
Two rules to follow
If you want to adapt to the way buyers buy now and differentiate your products and services from the competition, then you must follow these two rules:
- Make absolutely certain that the entire sales team can articulate the appropriate value proposition. They must all be able to communicate effectively with prospects why it makes sense to work together…from the prospect’s perspective. This starts with the value proposition. It must be clear, true and tailored to the individual buyer.
- Upgrade your sales team either through training, development, accountability and coaching, or hire better to ensure you have strong and elite salespeople. The ones able to connect with customers and differentiate your products and services from the competition. To see a sample of a sales candidate and the elements that define an elite salesperson, click here.
When you employ these rules, whether you’re in the Security Industry or any competitive one, you’ll be less distracted by competitors and more focused on what you control and really do best.