“We’re a church with a limited budget. How much budget do we need for this gear?”
“We have ‘this amount’ of budget, what technology do you recommend?”
Or, my least favorite, “We need to set a budget for our audio, video and lighting. What’s a good amount?”
I hear these question from well-meaning people who are looking for a solution. Their hearts are in the right place, but their thinking needs some adjustment. While each question is sincere, all miss this key point:
Vision drives Need. Need drives Technology. Technology drives budget.
Said another way, when you know what you are called to do, then the need of what it takes to accomplish that vision is defined. Accomplishing it means that a certain level of technology and methodology is required. That technology will have a price tag. Those prices will then determine the overall cost. Teaching this simple principle to church buyers is an important tool in both building relationships for repeat sales and in helping ensure the right technology is in place at every step of the journey.
When churches flip this upside-down and come with a certain amount of money in hand, they can never know if they’re over- or under-budget because the vision has not been cast.
Budgeting Without A Vision
Sometimes, church leaders or church techs have an idea that they think will fit into the overall mission of the church, but their pastor has not expressed an interest in it. Or, it could mean that a tech director is in a church where the vision for tech is limited to supporting other ministries or only executing the technology for weekend services. Either way, the desire to do more or better is real, but the funds are not.
Though seemingly counter-intuitive to AVL sales teams, challenge their assumption that they need more equipment. Being a good steward of what they currently have is a clear indicator of someone who will maximize before they spend. And while there’s nothing wrong with adding equipment as needed, the danger of just adding morem is that it never stops. Different is often a better solution than simply adding more, so help churches understand when they need to re-think their technology direction to support and align with where both they as a church and technology innovation are going.
Part of a church tech arts leader’s job is to find ways to solve problems, create efficiencies, and increase consistency. They can accomplish this most effectively when they start by documenting the issues. This is a key entry point for systems integrators to provide high value at low cost. By helping define a non-technical scope of work (a.k.a. – the ‘Proposal’), the technology is aligned with solving a problem that has been clearly identified. Here’s what the proposal should include:
- Define the opportunity.
- Explain (briefly) the value and set the budget options (and always include more than one option!).
- Write this up in a proposal format that is easy to read and quick to identify value without ANY technical knowledge.
- Present ideas, concepts and, most importantly, solutions to the leadership so they see added value and not simply spending more money.
Relational Selling Wins
Provide important – even crucial – services that will help churches maximize their existing technology before going for the next big sales.
Encourage the church tech leader to spend a few minutes each week documenting needs, finding creative solutions and pouring new ideas into thought-buckets – for use later on when these new needs arise. This will pay off as integrators build trust relationships and help introduce new technologies that fit within the vision of the church for making incremental, consistent changes.
“Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect.”
‘ W. Clement Stone
Casting vision, catching vision and executing through technology innovation is an important role for every church tech arts leader. Empowering them with helpful documentation, a roadmap for consistent AVL technology performance, and the sales and support to see them through each upgrade is how to leverage technology appropriately with repeat sales opportunities. The sooner your sales reps understand this truth, the sooner they’ll see their volume and margins increase.