One thing is for sure in the age of the Internet: People want things fast.
In a world where e-commerce and retail are blurring together by technology that is figuring out how to bring customers same day delivery without ever leaving the house, people don’t want to wait for anything.
While the speed of delivery on a flat panel or pair of shoes may not directly correlate to the planning and installation of an audio visual system, the trend toward “I want it now” is impacting customers desire for quick responses on proposals and their other requests. After all, these corporate buyers are the same folks seeing drones delivering packages same day (Not really…but soon!).
Perhaps no one in the integrator organization is more affected by this than the sales team. As follow up to their site visits they are typically asked to scope out the project and return with a proposal. At one time, five or ten business days to turn around a quote was pretty common and customers were good with that. However, as expediency and quick turnaround has become the norm, five to ten days is now an eternity to some buyers who are looking for quick answers and results leading to greater expectations and ultimately more pressure on sales pros.
Meaning: clients are now looking for sales pros to turn around complex project proposals in just a few days if not sooner.
The Implications Are Big On Integration Organizations
By nature, good sales people are savvy when it comes to taking care of customer needs. If they ask for the quote back in a day they can usually negotiate a couple of days, but even the best sales people are hamstrung by sometimes-unachievable customer demands.
The challenge is, if you reset expectations you may find yourself on the outside looking in, but if you say you can get the job done and you don’t then you look even worse. So what is an integrator to do?
The real root of the challenge is that many integrators simply can’t put the right quality of eyes on a project in just a day or two. Assuming the sales person is able to get back to their office and hack out a quality scope and project overview, it will still be required for an engineer to review the concept and then put the equipment list together and at the very least a wire-frame of the system flow. This can take several hours, and that is assuming the engineer can get right to work on it… often times they cannot.
In Order To Satisfy Customers, Should Sales Pros Be Quoting Solutions?
I think the answer by in large is no. Integration sales people are rarely if ever qualified to quote systems. The problem is, what are they supposed to do when the customer is seeking a fast turnaround?
Management can ask them to try and hold the customer off while engineering gets to it but we are in a competitive world where now is never soon enough, and if one company can’t deliver there is almost always another willing to step up to the plate.
For sales people who work their tail off to find opportunities it can be miserable to watch opportunities fall by the wayside because systems cannot give it the proper attention. However, if sales people take too much liberty they can make tremendous mistakes that could cost a company thousands of dollars and their reputation.
As we move into the future and immediacy continues to press integrators to deliver faster, I do believe that integrators will need to do two things to stay ahead of the game.
- Standardize: As often as possible package solutions that are turnkey and fast to quote.
- Outsource: When complex systems need to be designed in short order sometimes an outside resource is key to getting the job done.
Now, let me ask you…Do you think sales pros should be quoting systems work?