Are we taking the car salesman approach to selling video walls?
Let me first say that I am not in any way disparaging the professional car salesman. Car sales is a unique market all its’ own and there’s no shortage of challenges facing today’s sales pro regardless if the product will get you from point A to point B fast and loud, cheap and easy, or green and clean.
You may have heard the statistics, but recent surveys show a very different car buying experience today than that of just 5 to 10 years ago, much less 15 or 20 years ago…. Did you know that on average, by the time today’s car buyer drives onto the lot or walks into a showroom, they’re already 98% of the way to signing on the dotted line? Does it surprise you that this number is so high… 98%?
Now I will admit, buying a car used to be something I’d look forward to; I’d test drive a number of possible options, narrow down the selection and thrive in negotiating the deal down to the lowest possible price. Fast-forward to today- call me crazy (or just a normal, working professional, mom, wife… (Need I say more??)) the very thought of all the time I used to spend selecting the perfect car just to be traded out in a couple years, (not out of necessity, but boredom) totally exhausting, right?
These days, I have (thankfully) changed how I buy a new vehicle. I do all the research upfront- I generally can narrow it down to precisely what model I want, features/packages, all the way down to a price range that I am willing to pay based on all kinds of information available at my fingertips thanks to the internet. For me, the magic formula is finding the right dealer with a willingness to get the car I want if that’s what it takes (rather than trying to convince me to buy a car on the lot they want to sell me), one who values my time (that means they have a straight-forward direct approach), along with a knowledgeable sales team (hopefully one that knows the line better than I do! ☺).
Ok, so transitioning to our world. Queue the twinkling chimes…
As one of Almo’s business development managers, I specialize primarily in the Samsung product line. Working closely with our sales and reseller partners, I am still surprised when I ask the question, “What kind of content does the client want to display on this video wall or how will digital signage be used in this application?” and the response is either “I don’t know, or we’re just in the preliminary stages of the bid and just need hardware costs right now” (which usually translates to “I don’t know.”) This scenario comes up more than you can imagine and I have to ask myself if as an industry, “Are we taking the car salesman approach to selling video walls and digital signage?”
Statistics show that digital signage is growing on average 30% per year. Take a few seconds to think about where your current signage business is coming from. How are you becoming engaged in these opportunities?
- Are you or your sales team out in the trenches uncovering small – medium sized opportunities to propose a solution to a common need of independent businesses or even to corporate America within your target markets?
- Do you have a mapped out sales plan or company initiative to target your existing customer base and increase the products you sell to them leading with digital signage solutions at the core of your messaging, OR…
- Are you mostly responding to bid specs and taking calls from end users who generally already have an idea of what they’re looking for and often call out specific models, brands or even software versions?
If you found #1 or #2 to be the source of the majority of your digital signage business, these kinds of outbound opportunities allow an integrator some advance knowledge of the end user’s business and enables a more customized, design-built or solutions-selling approach after meeting with the client to confirm their needs and problems digital signage would help them solve. In this process, the end user typically recognizes the integrator as the pro A/V expert and decision making may be limited to a single point of contact or a primary point-of-contact may involve a few key department heads such as operations/facilities management, IT, or purchasing to confirm final acceptance collaboratively.
On the other hand, if you caught yourself thinking you’re so swamped with responding to bid specs and taking calls from new prospects on digital signage projects that you don’t have time for identifying new opportunities or expanding what you sell to your existing customer base, your overall volume in digital signage business may be high but there’s a good chance that margins are tight and getting slimmer all the time. It can be difficult for companies to change direction and get out of the cycle where so many internal resources are taxed to respond to RFQs (requests for quotes) only to be awarded to the lowest bidder. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your business for long-term growth, does bid work provide the stability you need or give you the opportunity to show the client the value you (the dealer, integrator, or reseller) bring to the table?
Let’s take a look at 3 most overlooked aspects of designing and selling video walls:
√ Understand the content and the clients’ objective for the video wall. What purpose will it have or what problem will it solve?
√ Address warranty and on-going maintenance services for the life of the product to ensure optimal performance and customer engagement to help show the value of the product you’re proposing as well as your ability to support client’s needs long-term.
For example, if you’re proposing a video wall in a lobby or atrium where there is high ambient light or floor to ceiling windows to bring the outside in and a high-bright non-video wall product is a better match for the site conditions than a low-light video wall option… or let’s say the architectural and interior design of your clients’ existing space is sleek and modern with virtually no structure to hold the bulky video wall product your client is requesting from you, be sure to take this into consideration when designing and presenting your solution to your client. If a high-bright solution is really what the environment calls for, discuss it with the client and/or other project partners (architects, engineers for example) when reviewing your proposal to help differentiate you from the competition. Anticipated this August, Samsung’s new UDD Series offers the narrowest bezels in the entire line at just 3.5mm bezel to bezel in both 46” & 55” sizes; units are rated for 24/7 usage with brightness at 700 nits and anti-glare screens and an input for a hard-wired internet connection, a good choice for areas that have high ambient light. As an alternative, Samsung’s UED Series, also available in 46” and 55” sizes has just come into stock and is rated for 16/7 usage and a lower brightness rating of 450 nits and offers a built-in Quad Core processor and Wi-Fi for infrastructures that call for wireless connectivity.
Surprisingly, content is often the last component considered as part of a video wall project implementation but it’s the most important factor that should be taken into consideration when designing/configuring the wall. For example, if your client is a cosmetics company, you don’t want to have content of a close-up shot of a model’s flawless face broken up by noticeable seams or bezels. Consider ultra-narrow bezel video wall displays like Samsung’s new UDD Series: UD46D/UD55D which has a reduced bezel to bezel dimension of a sleek 3.5mm, down from 5.5mm in the previous generation, the UDC series. Or, for content where bezel widths are less critical, the UED Series could be a great fit with 11mm bezel to bezel. Both the UDD and UED Series have a built-in processor on board but It’s important to confirm what resolution content will be, what kind of file types can be provided and how many sources are required as this can determine whether an external video processor may be required.
Warranty is another factor more often implied than detailed. The worst call you can receive is a client telling you one of their video wall screens is out. All warranties are NOT created equal so be sure to detail this in your proposal. Explain not just the length of warranty but specifically what is covered under warranty and what isn’t- provide examples. If you are in a competitive situation, let the customer know to ask some questions of your competitor about the warranty they’re providing, this can be a great opportunity for you to differentiate yourself. Samsung, for example provides a 3 Year On-Site Warranty. This means they will schedule a certified technician for an on-site visit when a service call is made. Others require units to be sent in for warranty repair which can mean serious down time, big difference…
So, next time your phone rings or before you rush to answer that email asking for a video wall quote on a specific brand right down to the model number or worse, they “just need equipment the IT department will install it,” ask yourself if you’re taking the car salesman approach to selling video walls by simply quoting a price for what the customer thinks they need or if you’re taking the time to understand the true needs of your client so that YOU can help design a solution to help them accomplish their goals. After all, we are the experts! A-hem, aren’t we?
I’d love to hear your stories… tell me about a time you got burned with a “box sale” or ruined a long-term opportunity or relationship by quoting what the customer thought they wanted rather than what you knew they needed.
Car shopping anyone? OMG, no thanks! (At least not until December, 2016 anyway! LOL ☺)