Shifting the Selling Paradigm
Turning security dealers into home automation dealers
- By Larry Goldman
- Aug 01, 2015
With the increased focus on home automation and associated
“smart home” devices, it is incumbent on security dealers,
installers and integrators to do more than simply sell security
products. In fact, security professionals who realize that
security is one of the primary “gateways” in which consumers
enter the smart home market have a significant market opportunity to gain new
customers, upsell to current customers, and increase recurring monthly revenue
(RMR). In addition, it is important to note that:
- Integrated smart homes lower attrition rates.
- Integrated smart homes greatly increase the usage of an installed system.
- Expanding to lifestyle devices increases customer value and retention.
It does, however, require a shift in the selling process. Understanding how to
position smart home technology as not merely a convenience, but the foundation
of increasing a family’s overall safety and peace of mind is critical.
Home Automation: Big Business
To say that home automation is a rapidly growing business is a vast understatement.
Telecom research firm Berg Insight forecasts that worldwide revenues from
shipments of home automation systems will grow at a compound annual growth
rate (CAGR) of 33 percent from $2.3 billion in 2010 to nearly $9.5 billion in 2015.
Further, interest in learning more about home automation is increasing significantly.
According to a report titled “Adoption and Usage of Home Automation Technologies,”
61 percent of online consumers want to learn more, a marked increase
from the 37 percent reported in 2013. At the same time, just 17 percent show no
interest in learning more about this area, less than half of the 35 percent reported
previously. Plus, consumers who are aware of home automation are even more
likely to be “very interested” or “interested” in learning more.
Consequently, if you are a security dealer or integrator, there is one question
that needs to be asked: how do you get your fair share of the smart home market?
But perhaps, as a security dealer, you
are not involved in smart home installations.
You focus on what you do best:
security systems, locks and monitoring.
You leave the smart home stuff to
the large retail stores, the cable companies,
service providers, and electronics
experts. If so, then you might be making
a significant professional mistake.
The fact is the smart home market
presents a sizable opportunity for
security dealers and integrators. It
does require a shift in thinking and
approach, but if done correctly—and
with ongoing education about the
market and its offerings—you should
be able to position yourself squarely
into the smart home market and its
lucrative revenue opportunities.
Security dealers have traditionally
sold just that: electronic security. However,
by focusing exclusively on the electronic
security aspect, security dealers
are leaving huge dollars—and a steady
stream of new customers—on the table.
With increased consumer interest in the
home automation market, driven in
large part by physical security (automated
door locks), dealers have a chance to
“reinvent” themselves as sellers of not
only security products but entire home
automation packages. In doing so, you
will accomplish several goals.
- You will increase your recurring
monthly revenue (RMR).
- You will increase customer loyalty
through satisfaction with multiple
high-quality products and added
- You will have a chance to offer the
kind of personalized service that the
service providers and cable companies
often do not.
A New Approach to Selling
Now that we have established the fact
that there is a great opportunity to sell
home automation systems to consumers,
the next question is: how do you
The typical alarm sales consultation
seamlessly lends itself to a discussion
of the benefits of home automation.
At a fundamental level, you provide
the customer with control—after all,
they are your customers (or soon to be
your customers) precisely because they
are looking for increased control over
their home environment—and home
automation is, at its core, a greater and
more advanced level of control.
Undoubtedly, the first step is to inform
potential customers that you actually
offer these kinds of products and
services. Within the industry, it is no secret
that security dealers have increasingly
been expanding to include home
automation and control products.
Nevertheless, a large percentage of
consumers may still be laboring under
the assumption that a security dealer is,
well, a security dealer. Consequently,
the first step is to inform customers and
prospects that you are not just in the security
business; you are a company that
can fulfill all of their home automation
needs. This fact should be highlighted
in all of your marketing tools and materials:
print and digital advertising, website or newsletter. Positioning yourself
as a full-service home automation
solution provider begins with you, not
If you are conducting an initial
consultation with a customer at their
home—the opportunity to discuss
home automation has already begun.
But it is not about selling product, it
is about selling solutions to fit their
unique, individual lifestyle.
Unlocking the Conversation
Since security is an effective gateway
into the home automation arena—and
because you are already talking to a
customer about home security—electronic
door locks can be an effective
catalyst for beginning the home automation
discussion. Here are a few general
tips for selling these smart devices.
- Smart locks represent a new selling
proposition. They are no longer
just a security sell; they are a “lifestyle”
- Explain keyless entry as a major
safety and convenience factor—no
worries about lost keys.
- Explain how customized interior
scenarios can be set up before the
homeowner even enters the home—
lights can be turned on and heat/AC
can be activated well before the consumer
is even in the house, increasing
- Talk about the potential energy
savings—if the homeowner forgets
to turn off lights or heat after they
leave, it can be done remotely.
- Ask if the homeowner has ever forgotten
to lock the door. This becomes
a moot point with a smart lock.
- Explain how audit trails “announce”
who entered the house and when;
this is a significant safety factor.
- Ask about elder residents: smart
locks can be the central point for
“aging in place” applications.
- Ask about housekeepers and service
providers: temporary codes offer access
only when necessary, another
big convenience and safety factor.
There is a critical factor to remember
in the overall selling proposition: as
a security professional, you are not just
providing physical security. Certainly,
in selling smart locks, you are offering
the consumer some of the safest and
most effective deterrents to intrusion
available on the market. Just as important
is the peace of mind that the
consumer gains from buying and using
these products—the “virtual” security,
so to speak.
The smart lock makes it significantly
more difficult for a criminal to break
into a residence; the peace of mind that
the homeowner experiences knowing
that that their family and valuables are
protected cannot be overstated.
Different Products for
Let us assume this discussion of smart
locks piques your customer’s interest,
and they are interested in learning more
about the entire range of home automation
services and products. The next
step is to learn more about the lifestyle of the customer and his/her family. Key questions to ask include:
- General: Overall interests, concerns, and life “patterns.”
- Size of the house: As many dimensions as customer can provide.
- Children: Their ages, comings and goings, specific security concerns you have
for them? This can lead to the potential for cameras and/or sensors. (Once
the customer is pondering the benefits of front-door surveillance, moving to
a discussion of back-door and full-perimeter monitoring is an easy transition.
Further facilitating the discussion is the fact that some home control service
providers will not charge for monitoring additional cameras once the first camera
is in place.)
- Service providers/package deliveries: How many expected visitors (service providers)
and unexpected visitors (package deliveries) might come to the house in
- Pets: Number, type, do they have free reign of the house or are they restricted?
A pet camera outside the home is also a useful way to overcome the customer’s
natural reluctance to camera placement inside the home.
- Doors and openings: which ones are primary means of entry/exit? Secondary?
- Audio/Video Requirements: TV, stereo, all other entertainment equipment.
There are various ways in which you can increase RMR through the sale of home
automation products. No one solution is right for every business; decide on an
RMR solution that best fits your business model that includes additional lifestyle
devices but makes it easy to choose for the customer. Some of the methods that
work best include:
- Asking customers to pay for all the equipment and have lower monthly fees.
- Subsidizing equipment costs with higher monthly fees.
- Offering preventive maintenance and service contract packages.
Help Is On the Way
No matter how much you, as a security professional, learn about home automation—
and no matter how well you modify your selling approach—there is no way
to know everything. The smart home market is changing at an astounding pace,
and keeping up with it is a prodigious task.
The key is to partner with smart home manufacturers and distributors who
can become true partners—that is, educational resources that you can contact on
a regular basis with questions or concerns about the industry. Plus, you will want
to associate with companies that can provide ongoing training in a wide variety of
smart home topics, even if those topics are not specifically related to the company’s
Companies such as Kwikset provide a wealth of information on their web site
to help security professionals navigate the sometimes confusing
smart home waters. In addition, Kwikset provides ongoing professional
training and education at trade shows as well as other
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 issue of Security Today.