I am actively engaged in the online AV community on Twitter. This weekend, a chat called #AVintheAM challenged integrators to discuss and explore how sports broadcasting as a vertical could yield some fruit on the local and K-12 level.
There were a lot of ideas on the viability and profitability of systems and projects in this vertical. As most often happens, these topics entered the conversation as potential hurdles: direct-to-end user sales, consumer gear and in-house or do-it-yourself (DIY) integration. I always find these topics fascinating because I feel like they cause more friction than necessary. In my latest “Selling AV” podcast, I talk about how to leverage momentum and use it to drive conversations forward as opposed to trying to reverse field and convince a customer they don’t want what they’re asking for. If you missed it, check it out here.
I find that DIY conversations often benefit from the same approach. If a potential client or customer wants to tackle a project on their own, expending all your efforts to convince them why they can’t is a waste of time. It’s better to focus on the things they don’t want to do themselves and find how you can assist with those. As I said online, people will pay you good money to do the things they don’t want to do. Notice that I also said “don’t want to do on their own” as opposed to “can’t do on their own.”
This is a very important distinction. Assuming you offer something no one else can do is dangerous and a bit arrogant. A client may have to invest more effort in hiring, training and staff. Odds are, if they really wanted to, they could find a way to get it done by themselves.
I like to approach clients from the opposite perspective: “Thanks for inviting me here today. It seems like you have a talented staff, have done a lot of research and have a good idea about what you want to accomplish. Based on all that, what parts of this project are you the most worried about, and what parts are you looking to outsource so that your in-house staff can focus on higher priorities?”
Asking them where they are looking to reduce their risks and what parts they don’t want to do sets the conversation up to center around the value you can bring in those areas. It turns the focus to what they want to buy instead of on what you want to sell.
The long and short is, most executives don’t waste their time on meetings for no reason. If you were given an audience, they want to hire someone else to do the things they don’t want to. How do you know what that is?
Simple. Ask them.