When I owned my integration business, I was regularly asked how competitive my prices were, if my prices were similar to those online, if I would match the prices of big box movers and if it was better for the client to purchase the device themselves and have me install it.
These are some challenging questions to answer and the outcome of the conversation could have a dramatic impact on your profit margins.
However, a standard component in both sales and negotiations is dealing with objections and successfully navigating obstacles.
So, what are your options when faced with these questions?
First, you need to remember that you are not an online retailer or big box store. You are a professional low voltage contractor and craftsman (or craftswoman). Remind your prospective client of the value you have to offer in contrast to the other options mentioned.
Some of these benefits include the fact that you are an expert at interfacing with other trades who may be involved in the project, such as cabinet makers, builders, architects and electricians.
Your input in the project will have a significant impact on the overall quality of the client’s home. For instance, your ability to hide subwoofers, recess flat panel displays, hide TVs behind mirrors etc, can be the magic that turns a basic project into one that has a lasting positive impact on the home owner’s lifestyle for many years into the future.
Be confident (but not arrogant) in your skills and experience as a professional. Your expertise has value and should not be provided for free!
Second, you are a professional ‘integrator’.
I would often tell potential clients that I would take full responsibility for their satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the user experience. I guaranteed the system will be easy for anyone in the family to use.
Now, this is undoubtedly a bold statement but it came with a caveat: they had to give me the ability to define the components that would be used in the system (while of course respecting budgetary guidelines from the client). If products are being sourced from cheapo.com or some big box store down the street, with no concern about the connections, control/integration or signal processing capabilities, it could have a very negative impact on the user experience.
As a <>-year veteran of the consumer electronics industry, you should have a broader knowledge and understanding of the available products and how they do (or don’t) work together.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you have access to products that big box stores and online retailers do not. Use this to your advantage.
As an integrator for 20 years of my professional career, I would always try to offer products that were ‘professional grade’ and custom focused. There are numerous examples of these products in nearly every category (even flat panels).
I am not suggesting that you oversell your client, by offering them something they will never appreciate or benefit from directly. Instead, I’m suggesting you use products that offer better integration possibilities and improved user experience through design features or components.
Another example may be managed devices and ‘device supervision’ which are very hot topics in the industry right now. These magical devices offer integrators the ability to become informed via text or email if a device locks up, and they often come with the ability to reset a device remotely. In my opinion, every system should include one of these devices because exceptional service and support are the most important elements of your customer offering now and in the future.
So, to answer the questions that I mentioned in the introduction to this article, I would often respond by saying: “We are authorised dealers for all of the products we offer and purchase the products direct from the factory or through authorised channels. We sell our products at fair market value prices; suggested by the manufacturers. We cannot guarantee that we will be the cheapest price around, in fact we likely will not be the cheapest if you search long and hard enough; however, as an experienced, professional contractor for the past however many years, I will guarantee that you and your family will receive expert quality craftsmanship during the design and installation of your system and exceptional service and support for many years ahead, long after the project is completed. We believe this service has value, which is why we have maintained such a long history of satisfied customers.”
Contact me anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pete Baker is a dynamic global sales and marketing professional with over 25 years of experience in the custom electronics industry. He began his career as a licensed low voltage technician and contractor. He then joined RTI in 2002, where he successfully led the global sales and marketing efforts of the company for 12 years. He is now the president of The Baker International Group (BIG), a full-service sales and marketing representative and consulting firm and founder of CE Business Academy, providing quality education to CE Professionals Worldwide.