Those who know me know I like to talk. I’ll leave that thought there for now.
Recently, in a business discussion I was asked “Why do you answer every question with a story?” I sat there for a few moments and – yes – was speechless (imagine…). Now I’m not sure exactly what my answer was at the moment I did have a response, but I’ll hazard a guess with a few thought-out responses here:
- I’m a writer and I do like to write blogs and articles of some length – I actually enjoy writing in depth and with that comes involved research in certain circumstances as well.
- I like to do recorded interviews with people in the industry (online and at trade shows) and with that comes extended discussion on technology and other topics
- I do podcasts – two to be exact AV Power Up and techXchange, both diverse in their makeup and giving me the opportunity to show different sides of myself as well – tech knowledge, humor and more.
- I’m very outgoing on social media which I do believe extends to actual conversation as well.
- Prior to this I was a long-time industry integration (and rental) sales account manager and with that came daily conversation with clients, engineering, installers, other sales reps and more. I actually do consult now, I attend conferences and trade shows where I talk with people constantly.
I’m sure there’s more which I may come up with after posting this. However truth be told, we all have conversations and stories to tell – we just choose to do things in the manner in which we’re most attuned to. I have personally always been one to like to talk, especially on the phone with both clients and manufacturers. I like to tell a story of one of my reps at Draper Inc. who when he called me or I called him, the conversation would many times begin with football – him being a die-hard Packers fan and myself a Redskins fan. We would actually begin with an almost 10 minute conversation on football before getting to the matter at hand – screen discussion.
Clients many times wanted to engage in discussion as they knew that I was one who liked to inform on the latest technologies and trends (interactive whiteboard and related technologies and K-12/Higher education happened to be a main realm of mine). I would work very closely with them on room and even custom furniture design, many times alongside sales engineering. I read something recently and reflected on taking the smaller “just satisfy the end user needs” job to a what could possibly become more toward a mid-sized integration job. Yes we have huddle rooms, small conference rooms, we should consider designing around mobility as businesses and schools shape the way they do things around devices, as well as cloud, VM and certain hardware technologies whereby many of your video conferencing/UC and collaboration solutions (should I say a plethora) enter into the picture and can tie into legacy systems as well. I highly recommend UCC-related articles, videos and whitepapers by Ira M. Weinsten at Wainhouse Research, David Maldow and others – I cover it to certain extents as well. There’s digital signage, strategic video capture, streaming and management solutions and much more. Of course the standard projection and display solutions are important, however shouldn’t we be talking way beyond that at this point?
And as for the —- box (sales)….? If you still say hang n’ bang, get rid of it, quick – it really doesn’t suit the current style of AV integration. I believe that clients, even with their so-called limited budgets, need the proper technology put in place for their current needs – as well as possibly future needs – and with it the proper sales consultation. Yes – don’t hesitate to have that future needs conversation either, you may just get into further conversation to add to the job now, or shortly down the road. Could even lead to other work – for you. I know, I had clients that gave me work, even when it should have been bid out. The slam dunk and go sales person just doesn’t cut it in my book anymore (actually, never did). And where you have your APEx certified integrators, I will highly bet it doesn’t cut it in theirs either. And as for IT, networking, etc. discussion – don’t just try, do. Or do or do not, like that little green futuristic sage said.
I remember another story, one of a Sister at a local Catholic college, a very good (and somewhat tough but wonderful) client of mine. One day I was sitting in front of her as she told me that she had started purchasing some things from another dealer (I believe some projectors and lamps even though I still sold the lions share to them) and when I asked her why, her response was “I don’t know that you’re getting in touch as much as you should be, giving me the latest technology developments” – in essence she was saying you’re not talking to me enough. And I will go on record here to say that Sister Agnes, one of my favorite former clients in the whole world, was one of the people who helped shape me into the person I am today in terms of my great need to learn and disseminate information the way I do, as well as a sales manager whom I considered my mentor.
I sometimes suggest (in jest mostly) to anyone who may have an issue with the length of my conversation, just use the single term that has become very prevalent in business dealings – the “hard stop.” Like when (or even before) the conversation begins say “Corey I have a hard stop at 2:30.” Funny thing is though – I’ve actually had that happen, and the other person is still talking at 2:40 to where I then say, “don’t you have somewhere to go?”
Guess they forgot, could be intriguing conversation making them late for that appointment…