How to make your business stand out
Don’t let rivals win the creativity award – think of ways to make your business stand out. Pete Baker explains.
Over the years I have heard many dealers say that they can’t sell certain products or services.
This is usually followed by: “Pete, you just don’t understand our market.” Nevertheless, I sometimes have extensive experience of the given market.
You may recall a few years back when the industry was buzzing that apps had brought about the death of the remote control. I was at a dealer event in Canada, proudly displaying shiny new remotes.
A dealer approached and asked whether I had anything new to show him. I pointed out the new remotes and he responded: “Nobody will buy a remote control here, they just want to control everything with an app.”
Well, this sparked some interesting banter back and forth, but eventually we agreed to disagree and he moved on to the next display.
The next person to approach me was a dealer who was delighted to see all the remotes. I asked him whether he sold remote controls, and he replied that his company put one in every project.
Intrigued by this, I asked: “Do you have any challenges selling remote controls in this market?”
He said simply: “We insist that every project have at least one to ensure the system will be easy to operate.”
So what was this? Two dealers in the same sales context held different conceptions about consumers in their market.
Unfortunately, this situation is not isolated to remote controls or Canada. Most recently the comments have been related to centralised distributed audio systems and the view that nobody in a certain market will buy a distributed audio system.
Now I love streaming audio devices and using an app to control some elements of my home automation system. I am also no stranger to objections from consumers regarding price, technology or an investment in wiring for their homes.
However, I have a firm belief that we, as experts in our profession, have a responsibility to guide consumers in making the best decisions to enjoy technology in their homes.
As an example, when I owned an integration company, I included at least one ($500-$1,000) remote control in every project. This was often the first item the client would want to delete from the proposal.
I usually replied to this effect: “I understand that this is a significant investment for you. From my professional experience over the past decade or more I can state that without a proper user interface you will not enjoy this system. You and your family will be upset with me for selling the system to you and it will be a waste of your time and money.
“I will program the remote control, put it on your coffee table and let you use it for a month. If you are not convinced or satisfied, I’ll take the remote back and it won’t cost you a penny. However, if you enjoy the user experience, I will charge you for the device.”
Going back to the two dealers in Canada, the main differentiator was ‘passion plus conviction’. The second dealer was passionate about providing the best possible user experience and convinced that his clients must have a dedicated device to control their system.
This conviction was clearly translated in the conversation with each of his potential clients. Passion plus conviction promotes belief among other people. If you have confidence in what you are offering or selling, embrace that feeling and express it in conversations with potential clients.
It is tempting to follow the path of least resistance. When there is heightened competition it takes courage to stand your ground and recommend the opposite course from your rivals. But this is an opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition.
We are all consumers, and we prefer to invest our money with people whose professional ability we trust.
It’s concerning when I hear from dealers that they no longer sell distributed audio systems. This means they no longer sell audio wiring, flush-mount speakers, in-wall control devices, etc, and they are probably devaluing the importance of these features in the project.
If the consumer can drive to a ‘big box’ electronics store and buy the items off the shelf, why do they need you?
It is important to remember that the wiring and technology investment the consumer makes in a home will add value and marketability. Additionally, the technology should be used and enjoyed every day.
When you consider these aspects and amortise the investment, it is much easier to appreciate the value delivered over the years by a professionally installed system.
As an integrator, I always enjoyed recommending things that my competitors might not think about. Some examples today might be: hi-res audio, shading, energy management, premium outdoor audio, elegant floor-standing speakers in one room of the house.
You never know, that one thing you suggest could be the deciding factor in the customer’s decision to go with you.
Avoid the temptation to follow the rest – think of how to differentiate your business and add value to it. Don’t sell like your rivals. Sell Differently.
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. I enjoy hearing from readers. You can reach me via pete@the bigcorp.com