Navigating System Integration

There is a plan for sales and marketing in a modern-day environment

Super savvy security systems integrators are proficient in the latest and greatest technological advances. They are very skilled when specifying the most cutting-edge video surveillance and analytics capabilities, remote access advances, cyber secure solutions, and more. However, what some, if not many SIs today are not skilled in is how to effectively sell and market their services.

Finding and winning new accounts is often a huge challenge for today’s security systems integrators, contends Chris Peterson. As founder and CEO of Vector Firm, a premier sales management-consulting firm focused on the security industry, he has become a trusted sales, marketing, and training consultant to some of the most prominent systems integration companies in the industry. Although he has worked with over 100 security clients since Vector Firm’s inception in 2010, Peterson happened on the industry - and a career focused on sales training - pretty much by accident.

He actually began his sales career in the Healthcare IT sector. A friend who invested in a thermal imaging business and was looking for a VP of Sales later recruited him. Several substantial acquisitions later, Peterson found himself leading business development efforts for a large industry manufacturer; although he readily admits, he knew little about selling through the integration channel.

However, a good salesperson is a good salesperson, and Peterson made a smooth transition. Along the way, he recognized a common thread – the need on the part of many SI’s for more sales – and marketing – training. “SI’s are expert at what they do – security. In addition, they are so busy managing existing accounts and putting out fires on a weekly basis that they do not intentionally pursue new accounts. They’re already on overload.”

However, Peterson believes that is only part of the problem. Finding and winning new accounts in 2021 is more difficult than ever, he said, because of the Internet and how it has change business buying patterns.

“Before the Internet came along, the salesperson was always the source of information. Now, people only need to do a Google search to get all, if not more, of the information they need. For free. Therefore, the whole concept of prospecting and finding new accounts has completely changed. Today’s customer needs knowledge from salespeople, not just information. To truly succeed as a salesperson today and sign new accounts, you have to be competent, and make sure that your market knows that you are a subject matter expert. And training and coaching is needed to do that.”

Peterson also realized that it did not matter where they were located geographically; many integrators needed to learn how to sell post-Internet, and they needed a resource to help them develop a successful sales process. That reality is what gave birth to Vector Firm, which develops sales and marketing programs that thrive in the post-Internet era of business-to-business sales. Following on Vector Firms’ effectiveness, Peterson, in 2017, launched Vector Firm Sales Academy, an online sales training platform built exclusively for system integrators and their technology partners. Peterson is empowering system integrators and their technology providers to succeed in their sales and marketing efforts. Vector Firm has authored a list of its Core Beliefs of Modern Selling and, below, Peterson elaborates on those beliefs and provides and explanation of each.

SELLING IN A MODERN WORLD

1. Customers and prospects do not believe they need salespeople anymore
A: The key word here is believe, because customers do need salespeople, but they need knowledgeable ones. Salespeople were once a primary source of information, but in today’s world, people don’t necessarily need that information from another human being – they can get that online. So selling in the traditional way, pre-Internet, is no longer effective.

Providing knowledge, knowledge the buyers need to make an educated buying decision, is what makes a salesperson successful today. System integrators who present and establish themselves as a Subject Matter Expert will win more sales.

2. Purchasing decisions are made by multiple people who may not be familiar with the salesperson
A: In years gone by, salespeople had one point of contact for decision giving. They built a relationship with that one person and, even if the salesperson occasionally dropped the ball, the customer kept the relationship. That is because they had established a friendship, a rapport, an ongoing relationship. In today’s world, though, the decision-maker has to get a Buy In on all purchases from a committee.

Therefore, it is important for the salesperson to understand that their contact has to go before a committee. There is a reason this happened. No one wants to make a poor decision that hurts the bottom line, and in today’s world of free information, anyone in the organization can challenge a decision.

3. Customers and prospects are distracted more than ever, rarely focused on salespeople
A: People have always been distracted, and salespeople trained to keep customers’ attention. That is not new, but it is the magnitude of it. People have a shorter listening threshold and attention span today, so when a salesperson does an initial discovery call now, they have to do all they can initially to gain their attention.

When you show up for a meeting room appointment, you can be sure that some of the people in that meeting will actually be disappointed that you showed up! That is because they have so much to do they had hoped you would have canceled. You are the last thing on their mind – they are thinking about a million other things. We all used to be able to compartmentalize better because we did not have everything in our face 24/7.

While customers have always been distracted, the magnitude is significantly higher now. I coach SI’s on how to effectively start a meeting and capture the customers’ attention in the first few minutes of the meeting.

4. Salespeople must make their customers successful
A: While friendships and relations are still – and always will be – very important, they are not enough to maintain the business. Customers must feel like their success relies on their relationship with you. In the past, the ability to make friends quickly got you in the door and helped you win business, but competence made you great. Today, you will not get in the door without competence.

Finding Success in a Modern B2B Environment
Peterson is firm in his view that we see a different way of buying today than it used to be. Systems integrators need to be able to adapt to a new way of selling, which is why training on how to do that is so important. For companies that do not have the internal resources to do the training themselves, companies like Vector firm provide intelligent strategies, repeatable processes, and effective tools that position security professionals to significantly surpass their sales goals.

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