The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Probing Prospects for Biggest Fear Factor
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month we feature Phil Aronson, President, Aronsons Security Group (SAG)
Aronson's BIG IDEA:
"Determine what risks your customers are looking to eliminate, and then help them find the answer through your products and services"
HIL ARONSON, president of Aronson Security Group (ASG) in the Seattle area, is one bright guy. His company was recently acquired by ADT (by way of full disclosure my company, Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group, was the broker involved in the transaction), and I got to know Aronson and some of his associates pretty well. I’m convinced that ADT pursued the deal as much for the forward-looking management skills of Aronson and his team as they did for all of the usual reasons. Aronson still operates the company as a division of ADT, and to all outward appearances, it is both a great business success as well as a blending of some of the sharpest minds in the industry.
Real Security Value is Risk-y Business
I met Aronson several years ago when I was in Seattle speaking
at alarm association meeting. He was not in attendance, but we
met for the first time the next morning at 7 a.m. for a brief chat
and a cup of coffee. Yes, he is an early riser, and it is one of those idiosyncrasies that adds to his mystique and obvious dedication
to his business. Upon getting ready to leave the all-too-short
meeting, Aronson presented me with a medallion, which I first
thought was a silver dollar, but has proven to be worth a great
On the medallion was the layout of a management philosophy
entitled “path to value.” Then, as now, I have studied this
pocket coin (well maybe just a little bit heavy for that) over and
over again. Someday, I will write a more comprehensive column
on this coin and its value to the owner. For now though, just know that it contains the formula for running a successful
business in this industry.
It’s with that background that I asked Aronson the standard
question, “If you had just one really great idea to share with owners and managers of companies in this industry, what would it be?” His answer, to paraphrase, involved constantly assessing your business proposition to a potential or existing client to mitigate specific fears. “In other words,” Aronson continued, “determine what risks your customers are looking to eliminate, and then help them find the answer through your products and services.”
In sales, we are always looking to find out what a prospect’s
hot button issue or buying motivation is, and then building our
presentation around the solution we offer. In Aronson’s world,
everything is secondary to determining what risk the prospect
fears the most — sometimes that might be the motivating factor,
but delving into specific fears will certainly yield a more tailored
solution than simply addressing requests for better access
control or more video surveillance. Granted, the majority of the
work that ASG does is commercial, and there the risks customers
or potential customers have are somewhat different than
prospects in the residential market. Or even in the mini commercial
market — you don’t have to be a security guru to know
what risks a 7-Eleven owner fears most for their store and cashiers
late at night.
Commercial Work Needs More Hands to Pitch In
In all of our worlds, our mission as sales and marketing people
is to find a need of a prospect, and fill it. Frankly, the world of
commercial systems integration is still a little bit of “new territory” I need to explore. I know it’s a highly detailed field, and the bigger the project the more engineers, architects, project managers, etc., are needed. But if everybody on the team is working
on managing the risk, the job gets a lot easier. That means team
members have to be a part of the planning group rather than
leaving it all just to the project managers.
I think the takeaway from my brief meeting with Aronson is
that risk management is not only a process for the security provider,
but rather a goal of every marketing team in this industry.
And in this competitive market our goal is not just to provide a
level of protection, but to manage the risk in such a way as to
make our clients feel strongly about what we do and allow them
the ability to determine the level of “risk” they are willing to live
Oh, and by the way, if you ever run into Aronson at an industry
event, you might want to ask him if he has an extra medallion
in his pocket. If he does, I guarantee you’ll never forget your encounter with him.