Promoting Value in Challenging Times

After the financial crisis, customers worldwide have become more price-sensitive. Vivek Bagri, CEO of Livedarshan, explains why security providers should sell value and valueadded services, rather than competing on price alone.

Regardless of the industry or the market situation, the customer is always looking for a solution offering value for money. After the economic crisis of 2008 to 2009, with shrinking budgets allocated to security, customers have become even more price conscious.

With the plethora of information available on the Internet, customers have become more knowledgeable and more aware of what they want. Pricing for security systems is now available online, so it is easy for buyers to verify and justify the investment they make into products. Now more than ever, it is difficult for a manufacturer to compete on price alone.

Most customers look for security systems that are cost-effective, offer basic features, meet their parameters and are reliable. Therefore, selling security systems with additional features requires the manufacturer to justify the ROI. It is important to educate the customer that a purchase of security equipment is a long-term investment and the decision should be made wisely, keeping in mind future requirements as well as present requirements.

When customers purchase security solutions, it is problematic for them to make a decision based on price alone. An important part of adding value to a sale is understanding the needs of the customer. Every customer has varied requirements and demands a different solution customized to his needs.

If the seller is a system integrator dealing directly with the customer, a clear definition of the problem faced by the end user is important. Once the problem is clearly defined, the integrator can provide value by offering a complete solution specific to the needs of the client.

Customization
It is imperative that the provider is flexible and demonstrates good integration skills with various security systems to provide a central solution to the client. If all the devices seamlessly integrate in a logical manner, the customer has an easy-to-use, simple solution.

In most scenarios, the seller has to play the role of consultant, designer and implementer of the project. He needs to ensure that the customer sees value in his effort to provide a turnkey solution. It is also important to not be overly pushy about selling a product, but to involve the customer in the decision-making process. The customer will see value in the provider's knowledge and recognize that it is more than offering products. It is important to show the customer value in the solution, rather than the equipment used to implement that solution.

Service
An important part of any exchange is the service provided to the customer after the sale has been made. When customers buy security solutions, they will require service in the years to come. Service is one of the biggest differentiators and value add-ons for the client. The clien will purchase equipment at the beginning of the project, but will have to work with the seller through the years for support. Thus, the process of building relationships during the after-sales follow-up is important to create loyal customers.

Many companies have successfully differentiated themselves by not only providing complete turnkey solutions but by relentlessly supporting their clients. By providing good support, not only will the customer give repeat business to the provider, but will also introduce the provider to other prospective clients. With a good support and services team in place, the provider can offer unprecedented value to the customer.

The provider should seek to create standards of quality and service, which the customers regard as better than the competition. Irrespective of the market conditions, trying to compete with the lowest price is not the solution. Instead, the focus should be on efficiency and customer service.

Testimonials
It is important in security to back up service claims with successful case studies, customer reviews and feedback. Providers can even offer prospective clients the opportunity to speak directly to existing customers who have tested their solutions and service over the years. This builds customer confidence about choosing one company over another.

Another important part of staying competitive as a provider is education. It is important to be constantly up-to-date with the latest available technologies and keep pace with the market. One should be fully aware of what is available out there and understand the latest technologies prevailing in the world market. For example, if the vendor is selling a DVR capture card in a market where stand-alone DVRs are prevalent, it will be difficult to create sales leads. It is important for providers to adapt to technology changes and train their teams accordingly.

Along with keeping pace with the market, it is essential to educate the customer. Most customers are not aware of the technologies present in the market. They rely heavily on the security integrator for ideas and solutions. If the provider can successfully find solutions for common problems faced by the client, the customer will see value in this. Users will be less concerned about the price of each and every component involved in the solution.

To sell any security product, it is important for a provider to add value or have intellectual property as part of the solution. This will help the provider differentiate his solution from the competition. The provider should also specialize in a single technology, depending on the scale of the company, and offer complete solutions as an add-on.

This will help the provider concentrate on and build strengths in that particular direction. It does not matter what the product is, be it fire alarms, security cameras, DVRs, access control devices or automation solutions. As long as one is able to carve his own niche in the market and differentiate oneself, price is hardly the only factor in purchasing decisions.

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