AV Matters
The Stimson Group Newsletter
*Introductory Issue * Sept 2007
In This Issue
The ONE Trend That Really Matters
Your Questions
Book Review
About Us
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Featured Book
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Tom (TR) Stimson, CTS
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The One Trend That Really Matters

Tom Stimson delivered his seminar on industry trends at NewBay Media's Rental & Staging Roadshow in New York. The unique event was sponsored by InfoComm and hosted by Altman Rentals.

I have never been the kind of person that buys the latest thing in personal technology.  The reasons are simple: I don't like learning curves and have a low tolerance for being a manufacturer's testing center. Second generation products with fewer problems, enhanced features, and less chance of a recall are more my style.

That is why I surprised myself by buying an iPhone before the dust had settled from the lines in front of the Apple Store. The iPhone has everything to do with the most important trend facing the AV Industry today - technology is getting easier to apply. The number one effect of this trend is that new products tend to actually work. And if it's easier for you, then it is also easier for your competitors and customers.
For a technology-driven service industry, this has some huge ramifications. The most important one is that our customers are becoming smarter, sooner. The primary cause of this is that the professional AV market is being trumped by the consumer products industry - especially in user interfaces. In short, our customers are buying capabilities for their homes that have not made it into their offices yet.

Your ability to explain new presentation and communications technologies to the customer needs to demonstrate that you can bring added value to the relationship. This kind of collaborative selling needs more than a Sales Representative or Account Executive. Cutting-edge Manufacturers, AV Integrators, Stagers, and Consultants need to provide their clients access to engineers, project managers, and technical staff as part of the sales development process.

The second outcome of this easier to apply technology is that a project's success is more likely to be measured in terms of time saved than in dollars earned. When everyone has access to equally reliable technology, profit margins become razor thin - all that remains to barter with is time. The better use you can make of your customer's time, the more likely you are to win the job. The good news is that by refining your processes to save time for the customer - you also reduce your costs.

Q: Can I retrain an unprofitable customer?

If we exclude the small percentage of folks who will always seek the lowest price, it is possible to help customers either pay more for the value they are receiving or accept less for the price they are paying. But before you start horse trading on features and prices, first ensure that the sales process you are using is the right one for that customer. In other words, do not pair a box sale client with an Account Executive (or vice versa). Next, understand what the customer is expecting for their money and eliminate any costly services that they do not value. Finally, make sure your pricing follows your expenses, because some customers are very good at finding your loss leaders. Manage your pricing better, match the customer to the right sales process, and eliminate services they aren't using. Once you have optimized your contribution to the sales relationship, you are ready to show the customer how you will maximize value for them.
Q: I know we have some things we need to work on at my company, but the people I need to be involved in the solution are all too busy. How do we make time for improvements when work keeps getting in the way?

There are two kinds of busy: the kind you make and the kind that happens to you. The issue has to do with priorities. I often remind people that we have no problem making room for emergencies or family obligations. The future of your business is also a high priority - have you told everyone that?  To break the cycle you need to create a sense of urgency.  A customer complaint, disgruntled employees, or an unfavorable financial report are all worthy of crisis status. Find a reason to get together now and use that time to make ongoing improvements your top priority.

The main reason employees resist improvement projects is that the meetings take too long and nothing seems to get done afterwards (see the Book Review below). Improve your tactical meetings by defining the deliverables as Action Items with Who, What, and When points. Who owns the item? What is the expected outcome? And When will it be finished? Try posting a list of ongoing Action Items so everyone can see what is being worked on and where they can help.

Please email us your questions.
Death By Meeting Must-Read Book
If you attend regular meetings then read this book, "Death By Meeting" by Patrick Lencioni. In an easy to read fable, Lencioni lays out a management philosophy that should appeal to any rational leader: better meetings equals more productivity. He teaches us about the different types of meetings, how the context of the meeting affects the outcome, and about the importance of drama. Look forward to your next meeting for a change.

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Art of SalesAbout Thomas R. Stimson, MBA, CTS

Tom Stimson is celebrating over twenty-five years in the communications technology industry.  As a Consultant, Tom helps companies build smoother operations, smarter sales, and better profit. For more information visit our website.