‘Value’ is a word that gets used a lot in sales and marketing – from a humble tin of baked beans right up to your choice of new car. Whilst many sellers will talk about value to the customer, the truth is that it’s a very subjective term. What is of value to one person could be a waste of money to another if it doesn’t fit their needs.
When it comes to buying modern security systems, defining value can be very complicated indeed!
A worthwhile challenge
Whilst defining ‘Value’ is a challenge, it is nonetheless a vital exercise for anyone looking to invest in their security systems. At the same time, security providers need to be acutely aware of what constitutes value to each individual customer and to ensure the solutions they supply meet these requirements, as repeat business and building a long-term relationship is essential in maintaining any successful company.
Getting the basics right
With the vast array of exciting security technology on offer, the choice can be bewildering for end users initially looking for the right solution. What they actually need to be asking themselves is not which technology they want, but what do they want their security systems to achieve?
Any good salesperson will tell you this is the first question to ask a potential customer and yet it’s amazing how many security buyers will fall at this initial hurdle! Undoubtedly many buyers will look at the headline figures (the cheapest widget or camera) as the easy route to satisfaction at the initial outlay. But if the system fails and must be replaced two or three years down the road, its simply false economy.
Reliability and quality should be prerequisites of any serious security solution purchase, along with its ability to actually protect property and people (after all, why invest in a security system that doesn’t keep you secure?!)
John Davies, Managing Director, TDSi
Total Cost of Ownership has become a big focus for security systems in the last few years, yet it should always have been a chief concern for any security buyer. Taking a long-term view of the costs of a security system is an intrinsic part of realising the true value of a solution.
For instance, buying a good-quality and future-proof integrated system that will evolve with the systems it connects to may cost 5-10% more than a ‘cheap’ solution during initial capital costs. However, if it lasts twice or even three times as long it doesn’t take a genius to see it presents excellent value for money.
This is a sensible approach if you are considering the traditional ‘rip and replace’ sales model – but there is a rapidly growing (and in my opinion, crucial) trend in offering ‘Security as a Service’ (SaaS) which removes the capital costs and spreads the investment over the whole term of the contract.
SaaS is perfect for the budget-conscious security buyer – there is no large sum to pay at the beginning (or periodically) to cover new hardware. Throughout the lifecycle you have the most up-to-date solution, upgrades as they become available and all the servicing and maintenance included – all for a regular and budgeted amount throughout the contract.
It’s fair to say this is a great business model for providers too – guaranteed income over a set period and a scheduled and predictable workload throughout, allowing you to concentrate on offering ongoing excellent service. It also builds an ongoing relationship between both parties, which is more sustainable and safer than the normal sales cycle.
Fully understanding the true value of a security system can be a complicated task for any end user business. However, when these systems are such an integrated part of any business’ IT network, it is important for end users to weigh up the options and to ensure that whatever solution is chosen, it really does offer the best value possible.
In the past, when security systems were specified and installed in isolation, it was much easier to look at the costs involved. Often this was the total cost of the hardware required, which may have pleased the accountants, but often only provided a two-dimensional view of value. It also sometimes inevitably led to inferior solutions being purchased in a misguided belief it saved on overall costs.
The security industry is very well placed to help end users assess their needs and to balance these with value to suit them, which provides a more honest saving on the bottom line. At the same time, it provides a great opportunity for security providers to build greater trust with our customers and a stable business model built on closer ties.
By John Davies, Managing Director of TDSi (www.tdsi.co.uk)