Articles in this series
- 5 Reasons Your Customers Don’t See You as a Strategic Security Partner
- 5 Reasons Integrators Struggle to Become Strategic Security Partners for Their Customers
- 5 Benefits of Becoming a Strategic Security Partner for Your Customers
As a security integrator, you work hard for your clients, ensuring they have the technologies they need installed in a reasonable amount of time. Unfortunately, if this is where your business offerings stop, you are doing just the bare minimum. When your customers don’t see you as a strategic security partner and just as an installer, it’s about time you re-evaluate your customer relationships.
But what is a strategic security partner? And what separates a security integrator from a strategic security partner?
At its core, being a strategic security partner for your customer comes down to your ability to provide top notch customer service. It is an organization that is proactive, transparent, and honest with their customer’s best interests at heart. A true strategic security partner is an extension of their customer’s team, not just a contracted service provider.
In the increasingly competitive world of security integration, becoming a strategic security partner is more than a goal or thing to be. It is becoming the industry standard, keeping in line with growing customer expectations. Globally, 58% of surveyed consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago. If an integrator can’t meet these growing standards, customers start to look elsewhere.
There may be many reasons why your customers don’t see you as a strategic security partner. As we examine these reasons, and why they matter, you will find the common link between them all is a clear breakdown or lack of a customer-first mindset. This list serves as a jumping off point for those looking to become a true strategic security partner, as recognition is the first step to change.
1. You Are Not Talking About the Long-Term
Strategic security partners are those with whom customers do lifelong business with. If you are not talking about the long-term with your customers from the start, it is clear you are also not invested in them for the foreseeable future. Too many integrators make the mistake of cycling their team back into the bidding process rather than trying to uncover additional revenue opportunities with existing clients. This mindset leads to an overall loss in revenue, client retention, and the opportunity to become a lifelong partner.
Speaking with your clients about long-term planning starts with asking the right questions. Asking them where they want to be in one year vs. five years and identifying what long term security success looks like to them. This also includes speaking to them about long-term budgeting and total cost of system ownership. This kind of relationship will allow you to introduce opportunities for recurring revenue, such as long-term service contracts or managed services, that provide real value for customers while also providing you with guaranteed income. You can’t possibly know about future project opportunities your client may have if you don’t ask, so sometimes it comes down to making the simple ask for more business.
2. There is a Lack of Communication
Failing to proactively communicate with your customers is a sure sign you are not being a true partner. This is true whether it comes to communicating a product is potentially going end of life, informing your customer of a new product that would be perfect for their install, or simply providing them with a comprehensive install schedule. Even in cases where more revenue can be made by withholding information, a true security partner communicates transparently, with honesty and integrity. Yes, there will be hard conversations, but it is through having those hard conversations that a true long-term relationship can form.
A lack of communication can also occur when the proper channels or infrastructure for communication are not in place. Throughout the system install process a customer may communicate directly with your sales team, a sales engineer, project manager, service manager, technician, etc. Communicating with many different people can be confusing for the customer and potentially lead to service disruptions and miscommunications. Without an identified single point of contact, virtual or otherwise, your client may feel like their concerns are falling on deaf ears. Case in point, approximately one in three people (30%) say the most important aspect of customer service is speaking with a knowledgeable and friendly agent.
3. There is a Lack of Execution
This should go without saying, but not delivering on pre-stated deliverables kills any chance of having a good relationship with your customers. The good news is, if you are currently struggling to complete your installs on time, you are not alone. A recent study found that only 62% of projects are completed within the original budget and only about 55% are completed on time. Delivering on promises now not only puts you ahead of your competition, but again solidifies your integration business as one that can be trusted.
Lacking execution may come down to lacking the right tools, team, or processes. Third-party software tools, such as SiteOwl, provide lifecycle management capabilities that make it easy for everyone on your team to collaborate on a project remotely throughout the design, install, and management processes. Good execution also relies heavily on communication and the ability to think long-term, as stated above. Unexpected events may arise, but being proactive about communicating issues and how they impact the customer in the long-term will ultimately lead to your clients seeing you as a trusted security partner.
4. You Offer Products Rather Than Solutions
A good security product solves a problem. A great security solution uses good security products to solve users’ specific problems. Strategic security partners think beyond products to deliver personalized security solutions that address issues and help customers better manage their facilities. With so many security products available on the market, your client won’t necessarily need the newest or most expensive solution. They need a solution that meets the specific needs of their organization, which may include remote access, touchless solutions, or multiple system integrations.
In order to effectively move away from product pushing and toward solution selling you will, again, need to rely on clear communication and long-term strategy. Thinking short-term (i.e. selling the most expensive products) won’t result in long-term successes for you or your customer. In fact, a recent study reported 33% of customers who abandoned a business relationship did so because personalization was lacking. Engage with your customer to create an experience that works best for them, not you.
5. You Don’t Evolve
If you are involved in the security industry, you already know it is fast paced. The global market for integration security services was estimated at $14.4 Billion in the year 2020 and is projected to reach a revised size of $33.9 Billion by 2027. With so many new products coming to market, new emerging threats, and an increase in competition, if you don’t keep up you will fall behind. It takes work to keep your finger on the pulse of the market, requiring you to do more than just push products and deliver systems on time. As a strategic security partner, you never want to stop learning or stop listening to your customers.
Consider the amount of time you put into researching new products. If it is zero, then you have a problem. It could be as simple as reading a trade publication or as complex as attending industry trade shows and manufacturer training opportunities. If you don’t know all the technologies available to end users, you can’t possibly provide them with the best possible security solution. Similarly, the information you need to evolve can come from communicating with your own clients. If you listen, they will provide valuable feedback on how they like to communicate and their preferred methods of customer service.
Being a strategic security partner is all about providing exceptional customer service. If you’re not sure you want to give up the way you always have done things in order to become a strategic security partner, think about the risk vs. reward.
By continuing to lack customer-service, communication, and execution, you risk losing revenue, customers, staff, and your reputation. By becoming a strategic security partner, you reap potential benefits such as opportunities for recurring revenue, increased customer retention, and improved efficiency.