AV Sales: Building Relationships and Managing Expectations (Excerpt)

AV Sales: Building Relationships and Managing Expectations (Excerpt)

By Bradley A. Malone, PMP

  • Many of the AV integration companies I’ve worked with have employed a range of sales strategies and styles. But overall, their approaches come down to this: short-term sale (hunt and kill it) versus long-term relationship (nurture and grow it).
  • Both approaches could be effective in generating significant revenue (some of the companies didn’t track profit per job), but the short-term sales person seemed to have to work a lot harder repairing relationships, whereas the long-term sales person spent considerable effort building a relationship. So I’d like to describe some of the best salespeople I’ve seen from some of the best companies I’ve worked with.

They’re Credible

The best salespeople I’ve met have a firm understanding of the vision, mission, values and ethics of their company. These underpinnings form the basis of their sales process and are used as differentiators, as well as a guarantee of quality. The message: “This is who we are; this is what we do; you can trust us and here’s a list of other clients that have and continue to do so.”

Some readers will scoff at this as just a bunch of fancy words, but the best companies have proven, through surveys and discussions, the importance of aligning their business processes with their vision, mission, values and ethics. An integral part of any sales process is establishing credibility and integrity. Showing clients that you measure not only the quality and professionalism of your implementation and service, but also your adherence to your vision, mission, values and ethics, gives them the confidence that you care and that you’ll be there for the long haul.

They Communicate

Good salespeople care about and validate the purpose of the project with the client, which is much different than selling equipment to fill a room. The best salespeople want to understand what the client is truly after — productivity, efficiency, lower maintenance costs, ease of use, flexibility — and they align their conversations and their proposals to meet those long-term needs. They also regularly contact clients of past projects to find out if their needs have been met.

Often, this process means talking to more than just the buyer. And sometimes the buyer doesn’t like it. But, of course, the people who ultimately use and maintain the system do like the communication. Does it take extra time and initiative on the part of the salespeople? You bet. Is it worth it? They sure think so — especially when their repeat business and referrals grow.

Top salespeople are aware of the billing and invoice cycle and make a call around commissioning time to remind the client that they’ll be contacted a month after commissioning to verify that the purpose of the project is being achieved.