We’ve all done it. We sit in front of the customer for the first time and we ask, “What do you want your system to do?” They reply with something to the effect of, “I don’t know, what can it do?” To which you respond, “Whatever you want.” Now you’re down the rabbit hole.
I’ve been told that the best salespeople listen twice as much as they talk. This could not be truer than when you are establishing a scope of work for a system.
When I first came to work for Crestron, I started purchasing Crestron products and installing them in my home. My lovely wife tolerated my constant tinkering, but she remained unimpressed. I would show her some shiny new remote, and she would respond by asking, “What was wrong with the old remote?” She obviously didn’t see what I saw in this growing rack of gear. Why it was special. Why I “needed” it.
Until one day, I added a single button that changed everything.
By now I had a pretty complete Crestron system in my home. I had TVs connected to a DigitalMedia™ system, distributed audio all around the house, lighting, thermostats, security, and even had connected door locks on all the doors. I noticed that my wife would follow the same routine every night. She would turn off the downstairs thermostat, make sure all the doors were locked, activate the security system, and then turn the lights off, one-by-one, as she made her way upstairs. The last thing she would do before getting in bed was to turn off the bedroom light and wander through the dark, often tripping over my half-packed suitcase. I used to call this process “shutting down the house.”
One day I decided to automate this entire process for her. I put a button on the master bedroom keypad that was neatly engraved with the word “Shutdown.” And I showed my wife. I told her that the feedback light would not come on until all the steps in the process were complete. I even made the last step, turning off the master bedroom light, happen over a 60-second period, so she could make her way into bed while the light was slowly dimming before turning off. The next day, she told me, “I really like this Crestron system now.” It wasn’t about all the fancy gear. She didn’t care if the TVs were 4K or 1080p. She was pleased that she didn’t have to trip over my suitcase anymore. A simple thing made all the difference.
I use my wife as an example when I speak to customers because often they relate to her better than they do to me. I was recently asked to come and talk to a nice, wealthy retired couple about a potential upgrade. The husband and wife sat down in front of me and started firing questions about system features and functionality. They told me how their last system was overpriced and over complicated. It was clear that they were sold a system that didn’t enhance their life in any way. In fact, it was a source of frustration.
It was morning, so we were having coffee while we spoke. I commented about how good the coffee was, and how I was a BIG fan of good coffee. They told me that they also appreciated good coffee, and that they were trying some new beans that day. After talking about what we thought about the new beans for a moment, I asked if I could tell them a story about how I start my day.
My job has me spending most of my time on the road, so when I find myself at home, I try to devote time to tending to my relationship with my wife. Whenever I’m home, we have a ritual in the morning that we call “Coffee Time.” As the name would suggest, it’s when we have coffee, but more importantly, we do nothing else. My wife and I sit with our coffee and talk for a few minutes before the distractions of the day pull us in different directions. Now, I really like coffee, specifically espresso. I use a vintage La Pavoni® hand pull espresso machine that is older than I am. When I turn it on, I must wait for about 8 minutes before it’s warm enough to pull a shot of espresso. I would normally wake up, take my shower, get dressed, go downstairs, turn the machine on, and then mill about the kitchen, waiting for it to warm up. Until I got the brilliant idea to let Crestron simplify the process. I created another button, called… you guessed it, “Coffee Time.”. Now I could wake up, take my shower, press the “Coffee Time” button, and by the time I was dressed the machine was ready. Now, my wife and I had eight more minutes to spend together each day. Thanks Crestron.
As I was telling this story, the husband’s body language started to change. He uncrossed his arms and started smiling. He politely waited until I was done, and then said, “That’s it. If you can give me a ‘Coffee Time’ button I’ll take your whole system.” I associated the system with an activity that was important to this person and demonstrated how the technology could enhance that special experience.
What I learned to do was to find out what is important in the customer’s lifestyle and enhance that activity. There is a subtle but very important difference between what the system can do and what the system does for the customer. It’s the same difference as price versus value. If you’re selling on price, there are no winners. If you can demonstrate the value, everyone wins.
So, listen to your customers, and find out what is important to them. Discover the value to them. It may be having visibility to cameras from touch screens because security is important. Or having a distributed audio system that can pump music to every corner of the house for epic house parties. Or something as simple as making coffee in the morning. You’ve succeeded when you can give the customer what they’ve always wanted, but never knew to ask for.
Author: John Yohanna, Regional Sales Director