The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Leave Every Jobsite With These Parting Words
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's BIG IDEA comes from Andrew Robinson, Invision Technologies
What the majority of people in the alarm business don’t know is that after five years of being in business, at least half of your new customers should be as a result of a referral. — Mark Gray, Ways Security.
OU PROBABLY HAVEN'T HEARD of Mark Gray, and that’s OK. You certainly will hear of him, in the not-too-distant future. He’s one of those business builders, and as CEO of Ways Security in Tampa, Fla., he is building in this industry. Gray is looking to acquire a group of businesses in the security/alarm space. He’s done his homework, he knows what he’s looking for, and my guess is he will find it and it will be successful.
As part of getting to know each other, I figured I would do a column on Gray’s thought process, knowing that he is essentially one of those “financial guys.” Boy, was I surprised! After asking him my opening question, i.e., “if you had just one really great idea for the industry …,” I sat back and waited for some insight on doing acquisitions. I didn’t get it. What I did get was something all of us could use in our businesses.
REFERRAL PROSPECTING LEADS TO SALES GOLD
“The number one source for organic growth in businesses of all kinds, is referral prospecting,” Gray began. He elaborated: “Most people don’t ask for referrals, they don’t even think about it. And what the majority of people in the alarm business don’t know is that after five years of being in business, at least half of your new customers should be as a result of a referral.” I couldn’t believe that statement, so I called a few of my friends who are successful in the business, and asked what their experiences were. Almost all responded like a deer in the headlights, staring at me and not knowing what to answer.
I thought about the reasoning was as to why we don’t ask for referrals, and came up with the simple answer that with all of the door-to-door sales, low-cost monitoring, DIY, PERS marketing, etc., we may have lost track of the basics of successful sales marketing. And it really isn’t as though it’s a hard thing to do, it really is quite natural. There’s a simple way to do it.
When your company is finished with a job, and your installer has done a walk-through with the customer, have your installer trained to pose the following:
“Mr./Mrs. Customer, I hope you’re satisfied with the product and installation of your system. Are there any questions I might answer for you before I leave? If not, and you’re sure you’re happy, perhaps I could ask you for a favor. We rely very heavily on referrals from satisfied customers. Do you know of one or two families that might benefit from having a security system? If so, would you like me to call them? And, by the way, just for the referrals, we will give you the first two months of monitoring at no charge. That way, everybody wins. The people you refer, you, and us. We will only approach your referrals the same way we approached you — by asking if they would like to have some more information on the benefits of having a really state-ofthe-art security system.”
If after that professional and articulate approach the customer answers “no,” you won’t pursue it any further. If they answer “yes,” then you will proceed and treat your referrals exactly as you have treated this customer.
CURRY CUSTOMER FAVOR AND CUT LEAD GENERATION COSTS
Every sales book, every seminar, every training program focuses on generating referrals. And for some reason, it seems, as an industry we have gotten away from asking for referrals, as well as rewarding those that provide them.
Why not set up a program in your company to change this, immediately? You can have referral cards printed up, to leave with your customers, with each one that is filled out providing the customer with a month of free monitoring. I’m pretty sure the concept of asking for referrals, or word-of-mouth selling, has been around since the art of selling originated. And if that is the case, it likely hasn’t changed in all those years. The only thing that’s changed is that we, in large part, have forgotten a lot of what we learned about selling — and referrals should be at the top of that list. I don’t know what your lead-generation cost is, but when you get referrals, most if not all of that cost goes away.
Is Mark Gray’s idea a great one? In and of itself, probably not. If we take the idea, apply it to our business, and really diligently, always ask for the referral, then it could be a great idea and resource, perhaps a big boon for your business. It doesn’t cost anything, but doesn’t do any harm, and it makes people happy. I believe they call that a win-win situation. Like most things that are great, this one is simple. And results are like gold nuggets — hard to find, but easy to recognize and worth the effort.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.