With Collaboration The Shoe Maker’s Kids Will No Longer Go Barefoot

collaboration-blog-0814There is an encouraging shift happening in the AV Integration industry.  This shift is happening at the integrator level and at the manufacturer representative level. If you are a not a part of it, you will absolutely need to be or you will be left behind — barefoot and in the cold. This shift illustrates the importance of living according to principles or a code.

The principles or codes I am referring to are:

  1. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. If you are going to show and tell a customer about something, show them in the right setting and show it in its best light.
  2. If I believe something is going to be good for your business, it must be good for mine first. This means I won’t try to sell you anything I am not willing to use myself. If I want to encourage you to use my product, it had better be something my organization uses to better our business.
  3. “Those who don’t know, teach” is a dead wrong principle. The only way to truly share information and knowledge is through experience. If you have not lived the joys of having collaborative technologies solved your pains, you will never truly be able to relay the message of how it can do so.

In the case of collaboration, this means the ability to demonstrate the way it works for your company to improve business and it needs to integrate seamlessly. Over the last decade or so, I have served as a national trainer and in a national business development role. I have to tell you that you would be amazed at how many AV/IT systems integration firms, including ones I’ve worked for, do not use collaborative tools in their daily operations and do not have a decent demonstration facility. These shoe maker’s kids are going barefoot. The good news is that this is now changing though. Now, as I travel around consulting and training with my new company, I am finding more and more companies upgrading their demonstration facilities and their internal processes and operations to include collaborative and unified communications solutions.

Dos and Don’ts of Making the Shift from Barefoot Shoemaker to Wearing Italian Leather Versace:


  • Fund and resource your Demo Facility as if it were a customer project
  • Stick to the schedule, require change orders, no cannibalizing, etc.
  • Assign an owner of the project/room (briefing center program manager)
  • Go through the full needs analysis rather than just slapping together all the free gear
  • Consider the functionality of the room first then determine the equipment
  • Yep, seems redundant from the one above, it’s important!
  • Use the room; this is not a museum. Demonstrations must be well practiced and natural.


  • Treat your demo facility as a lab (nothing gets swapped without proper change orders)
  • Do not test equipment or code in this room. Let manufacturers determine what goes in the room (users decide through a needs analysis)
  • If demos of new equipment are to be done in the room, it should be done through guest interfaces.  Do not “take apart the room for equipment demos from new manufacturers.”
  • Try to show everything in one space (it is important that the room have function first)
  •  Having a single room do too much makes it confusing to demonstrate and makes it confusing to the customer.  Even using “vignettes” is risky.
  • Simulate — if you are demonstrating global videoconferencing or collaboration, do not simulate a videoconferencing with someone by doing it from room to room.  Customers catch on quickly and will keep that concern locked in the back of their mind.  Demonstrate the capability from out of the gate.

The bottom line is that when we are willing to change a behavior and show our customers that we believe in what we are telling them, they are more likely to follow our lead. Along with that, there is a huge value in showing the value in your solutions and not just telling or presenting them. If collaboration and unified communications are what you are selling then what better way to show the merits and value for their use than implementing them in your business?

I use the analogy of the cell phone kiosk in the mall. I love the fact that at such a kiosk, if you were to buy a cell phone, they activate it for you by picking up a land-line and placing a call to an office and providing their head office the information needed to activate the phone. Wait! They call their head office using a land-line to activate your cell phone??? How much confidence does that instill? Are you doing the same thing when you invite your customer to your office to show them collaboration and unified communications and your systems are not integrated and are aged and slapped together? Time to “get your shoes on.”

The ‘living up to your principles and code’ is part of the MENTOR key from the 7 Keys to Selling Like Leonardo from the book Da Vinci Sales by Max Kopsho.  Pre-order your copy today at or book your Da Vinci Sales Seminar at