Technology can be confusing. Few people truly know how things work, but in an industry full of “techies,” we tend to disregard that fact when we step in front of a customer.
This isn’t anyone’s fault – most sales professionals have had little actual sales training. So like anyone asked to operate based only on experience, we go with what we know.
To some extent, the “techie” thing has worked for this industry. A lot of this has to do with the fact that most AV systems professionals spent the majority of their careers working with others who share their passion for technology.
Over the past five years, however, this has changed. The technology decision-makers are no longer AV-, multimedia-, and broadcast-focused buyers; instead, they’re primarily IT professionals, marketers, and financial executives.
The main reason for this change? Once Joe CEO recognized that he could operate an iPhone, launch his own videoconference from his laptop, and connect his home TV to the internet, he recognized that the work we do isn’t some form of black magic. It’s a facilitator of better business communication.
This change is both opportunistic and a bit scary for integrators. This industry has long prided itself on having a bit of swagger, doing things that others could not. And while certain segments of this may be true, like designing acoustics in a performing arts center or deploying a stadium jumbo-tron, there are no longer nearly the barriers to entry that there once were for creating smart rooms, deploying cloud or mobile solutions, or even setting up rich content networks for digital signage.
In light of this, here are a few of the most important business decisions that integrators can make moving forward:
- Commit to learning service-based business models and keeping up with the times, such as cloud, mobile, data, and more.
- Start listening to customers’ business challenges, and look for opportunities to apply the right technology solutions to help them meet their objectives.
These things may seem like common sense, but as someone who operates within the AV space and has the benefit of working with the world’s largest technology companies, I see that the future is rapidly moving toward new methods of communication.
With such rapid proliferation, we cannot afford to not keep up with trends and figure out how to deploy the solutions that our customers really need. If we don’t know what’s out there and how it can be deployed for our clients, then there is no way we can sell it.
Most integrators I speak with are still heavily committed to selling integrated rooms: classrooms, boardrooms, training rooms, and more; screens, projectors, touchpanels, and racks of equipment. This is in our wheelhouse, so we sell it (and we do a darn good job of deploying it).
Today, we show up at meetings with our laptops, smartphones, and iPads. We can use wireless to display content, we can join conference calls (even videoconferences) from our phones, and we can rapidly distribute content of all shapes and sizes to be seen on those iPads. Disruptive? Absolutely! But to run those conferences, share that content, and distribute information to geographically dispersed teams it requires the right software, mobile solutions, and even cloud applications to be married with the displays and hardware that still meet the user’s needs.
All of this can work for integrators (and their sales teams), as long as they understand the right questions to ask. It always starts with: “What is the BUSINESS problem we are trying to solve?”
Tomorrow’s smart environments are going to change. The art of staying relevant and solving customer problems will always be a requirement. This is exactly why integrators need to see the trends, stay educated, and always ask the right questions. –Daniel Newman, BroadSuite Consulting