When we speak to owners and managers of contract security companies, many of them complain about the difficulty of getting new business. A few, however, seem to find it much easier. I going to write about some of the lessons we have learned after dealing with many companies in the industry.
Why it’s Hard to Get New Accounts
You really have two choices for new business. You are going to either find a building or organization that does not currently have security services, or you are going to try displace another company that is already providing services to your prospect.
It sometimes easier to actually displace someone else because at least there is an acknowledged need for security. On the other hand, if the competition has a long term relationship with the property manager, it might be tricky to get them out. It still not impossible if you do your homework, and you have a compelling reason why your service is better.
In all cases though, we have found that a lot of business is lost because of a lack of understanding of just who all the stakeholders are. For example, in a Homeowners Association (HOA) you might need to deal with a whole board of directors. Each individual has his or her own motivations and ideas and any one of them might ruin your sale. If you don’t have a clear picture of who you are selling to, you could get an unpleasant surprise.
Another problem we see a lot is not knowing how to communicate with the prospect. Today there are so many choices with email, phone, social media and just plain old knocking on the door. You need to calibrate how aggressively you use each of these to ensure success.
Start by Being Clear About What you are Selling
The first step to building a great sales organization for your security business is to be very clear about what you are selling. Remember that not all companies can provide all services, so focus on a niche where you can excel. Do you want to provide patrols or stationary guards? Are they armed or unarmed? Are they able to interact with the public, or would it be better to guard an empty warehouse at night?
Now you have a niche, make a list of everything that would make you excel in that niche. For patrols, you need good vehicles. For some buildings, you need officers in a suit and tie; but for others you need a more practical uniform. Make sure you can tick all the boxes.
Focus Your Marketing on your Niche
Marketing goes hand in hand with sales. You are going to need to build some good marketing material. It’s best to be very clear about everything you are selling so be specific. List everything from the uniforms you will be wearing to the guard reporting software used.
On your list of services, be very specific on items that your competition may not be able to provide. For example: how will a shift be covered if a guard calls in sick? Are incident reports automatically emailed to your customers? What kind of access do the property managers have on your Dispatch Center? Every detail could be crucial to closing a deal.
Be Professional in your Marketing Channels
These days, it is very difficult to get by without a website. I don’t believe that you can get away without one if you want to look professional. On the flip side, there are a lot of good, cheap options to put one up, so make sure you have one.
Next think about email marketing. Get yourself a proper email domain. email@example.com looks a lot more professional that firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, there are cheap options today. Impressions do count in this business.
Now think about if you need paper versions of your marketing or can you just get away with a digital presentation. This really depends on your exact niche and prospects, but remember to do what your customers would expect.
How to deal with the First Meeting
The first meeting you have with any prospect is critical. It’s here that you make that all important first impression.
Rule number one – listen a lot more than you talk.
You need to understand just what the prospect’s hot issues are. You are not going to do this if you don’t listen to them. I am sure they are fascinated by all your past experiences, but don’t start telling stories until you really know why they would hire your service.
Focus on how you can solve their problems rather than irrelevant background. Make sure you are well armed with all the information about why your service is better than your competitors but only use what is relevant. Remember that you want to balance the message of how professional your staff is with information on how your company uses better technology, like guard tour systems, parking systems etc.
Your biggest goal here is you want to be invited back for a second meeting, and to keep engaging the prospect.
Now that you have had that first meeting you absolutely need to follow up. You need to figure out just how often and how aggressively to do this, but the worst thing you can do is not follow up.
Apart from showing the prospect that you care about them and will give great service, this is also a great opportunity to slowly feed them all the material you chose not to use in the first meeting.
If you have larger competitors, one of the best messages you can get to the prospect is that you are local and can give better customer service. Keeping in contact with them helps do this. You want to charm your local market.
This is also an opportunity to show real world examples. If you have a guard tour system, you can do a report on the actual visit you did to the customer to show them just what superior service you are going to give.
To be successful with the follow up activities it is important to have some good mechanism of tracking what you have told each prospect and when you told it to them. The simplest solution is usually implemented on the web based CRM systems that are available.
It’s always possible to win business from a competitor, even a much larger one. You need to be very clear about what you are selling. Then you need to show the customer that what you are selling will solve their problems. Finally, you need to show professionalism and superior customer service. Do all these things, and you will see it’s easier to sell security than you think.