Live blogging from Honeywell CSS Dealer Forum

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03/31/2009
7:56 - See how early I'm up? First night in Vegas was boring enough (man this city is slow right now) that I'm feeling downright perky here at the Honeywell forum organized for their commercial dealers. Starts in five minutes. I'm not going to be posting a ton, but I'll throw up interesting stuff as it happens. 8:15 - It's a full room in the Bellini ballroom. Joe Sausa and Dave Kaufman, whom I just met and I'm told really developed the commercial integrators group at Honeywell, are about to address the collected audience. They're doing the blinking lights thing. 8:16 - Starts things off with a little game where people guess "famous partners" - I think they're giving away money or something. The partners so far have been Sonny and Cher and Abbot and Costello. You can guess the target audience here. Did you know Barbie and Ken are no longer together? Lucy and Desi? Lone Ranger and Tonto? Chip and Dale? ("One is slightly more intelligent.") Boardwalk and Park Place? ("That was a tough one.") Stalagmites and Stalactites? ("Very hard.") Starsky and Hutch? Thunder and Lightning? Mantle and Maris? (Now you know you're at a Honeywell event.) And the kicker: Honeywell/CSS and You. I know I'm charged up. 8:25 - Here's Joe Sausa. Someone name Mo is told to behave himself. "Somehow, you figured out a way to make it here." Teamwork is the theme of the day, "it's important to tell each other what we like, but it's more important to tell us what you don't like. We tell you we're going to support you like you've never been supported before. Sometimes, the promises are so grandiose that we can't, but this group has grown faster than any dealer group in the industry. It's a departure from a lot of the other programs that have been started in the industry that have then limped along and failed." "It reassures us that we picked the right people, and we truly did pick you. You were targeted. You probably know that - there was begging going on to sign the contract." I like this Joe guy. Nice tie and handkerchief combo. Nice mustache. He asks the Honeywell people to stand up. There are maybe 30 of them here. "Wow. That's a lot of overhead. But that's what we promised you." Introduces Dave Kaufman. 8:31 - Dave. He's acting as MC for the event. Introduces Sean Leonard, marketing director for access control. 8:32 - Sean. "What can Honeywell do to help grow your business?" He's going to show us some tools that Honeywell is providing. I think this stuff is pretty crucial when it comes to why it can be nice to partner with a big manufacturer. They give you all kinds of marketing and sales support that the little guys sometimes can't afford or simply haven't developed yet. Integrated program: "Find, Win, Keep." Imperative verbs are fun. Honeywell's going to soon unveil a web site they're calling the Honeywell Security Ecosystem, which will be vertically organized and show the various solutions they have to solve various problems. Something you can show clients on site and use for idea generation. Paired with the spec-writing tool I wrote about back at ASIS, you can move from idea through design now in coordinated fashion. Lots more mentions of ADI than I've seen at a Honeywell event previously. It must be a coordinated effort to link Honeywell and ADI more closely. I think sometimes people don't even know ADI is owned by Honeywell, and sometimes that works to their advantage, but sometimes I think it works against them. Honeywell is unveiling their Top Secret Security Briefing program, where they'll plan an event for you, where you create a forum for end users to come and learn about security solutions. Honeywell will go out, find the lists of, say, school superintendents, create a mailer, invite all the attendees, and provide the experts for the panels. First try at it brought 10 end users for a local dealer in Pennsylvania. "Goal here is to identify the end users, drive them to the event, and generate new business for you." Why would you not take advantage of that? 8:51 - New video marketing director, Eric Zei, takes over. Talks about how he used to be in sales, and when they just showed you the products, they weren't doing a good job of trying to win your business. Now he's unveiling something that hasn't quite been released yet, that web site I was talking about earlier, which will be a resource where from start to finish they can show you a sales process from end user contact all the way through implementation and service. "Your sales people can know both what questions to ask and why they're asking those questions." Simple, but statement not understood enough: "When you're selling video, people want to see video." If you can do this through a web site, instead of having to bring a bunch of demo equipment to every sales call, wouldn't that be nice? "A huge mistake we've made over the years is that we sell with a shotgun approach, making the same presentation to every customer. That's a poor way to do sales." There's a new "stimulus package" that incentivizes the sale of new Honeywell products, like the new PTZ line, following a training session at your site. "We're actually going to be writing a check. That's something new for us. We don't do a whole lot of that. But we really want to partner with you. This is a no brainer." The quote generator they show is pretty cool, functionally, but boy is it ugly. When it gets out of beta, I'm hoping they hire a designer to pretty it up a bit. Also, it's probably still a little bit behind what TSS does with WeSuite, since that uses non-Honeywell products and factors in the labor hours and that kind of thing, plus tracks the sales process. Still, much better than nothing. And they're giving it to the dealers for free, obviously, which is nice. It's going to be available in about 60 days. It's not quite web-enabled yet. The cut sheet won't have the dealer's brand on it yet. "But we want to get this in your hands." Global VP Frank Roth can't help himself and breaks in. "This isn't there yet, but it's going to be. We're going to put our arm around you." 9:45 - After a break, Sean Leonard comes back to talk about the "Right Now Tour," which is like a "rock show" touring around the country. First one is in Atlanta on April 23. It's going to be a slimmed down version of what we're getting today. 9:47 - An enthusiastic Doug Eaton, part of the dealer development group, takes over to talk about commercial intrusion products. He asks the room to raise their hands if they have iPhones, or iTouch, or iPods. If you thought the iPod was ubiquitous, you were wrong. This is not Apple's market. So may his "we have an app for that" message doesn't go over that well. Then he asks about who sells radio back-up. A lot more hands go up. Who's had to roll a service truck to add a radio because the POTS line disappeared? Hands go up. "We think it's really time to really get to the point where we drop the POTS." "Friends don't let friends use POTS." "This is your brain on POTS." Seriously, though, Honeywell is pretty well done with POTS. He talks about using tape dialers (something I've actually never heard of - I am not old school, it's clear). We're going to see more panels with built-in IP and radio in a much faster time. AlarmNet provides the solutions for dropping the POTS. (This is a line I'm going to start using. "So, have you dropped the POTS yet?") Number of people in the room using Total Connect is higher than I would have thought. These CSS dealers are definitely okay with IP and web services. New thing is "My Keypad," where you can offer customers a virtual keypad on their mobile device. One guy has it up and running already, though Honeywell just announced it this week. The functionality on the mobile device is just like using the keypad on the wall. There's also a new web branding tool, so that when you're offering Total Connect, people don't see the Honeywell all over the place, they see your logo and a little powered-by-Honeywell button. I'm kind of surprised it didn't start out that way, but it's definitely the way it should work. New offering for "just a little access," called VistaKey. Only use the amount of access that you need. No dedicated computer, can enroll and delete from the keypad, and you can administer the system for them. Hello RMR. 10:06 - Kevin Peel, a product marketing guy, comes up to talk about new intrusion products, starting with a wireless outdoor motion sensor. You don't have to send an alarm on this product if it trips, you can send an SMS message or a video clip. "We think there might be an opportunity for RMR on this." A car dealership was having a problem with kids stealing their tires, and a integrator used these kinds of PIRs to build a wall of motion detection that stopped the problem. No trenching, no tearing up concrete. Also, this is not a "wireless ready" product. It's integrated so there's not separate batteries and it enrolls just like any other product. Kind of cool new wireless indoor asset protection product. You just stick the little widget on and if it moves, you get a signal, which can be an alarm or an SMS message etc. Gets at the difference between theft and burglary. Good for high-traffic areas where things could get swiped - someone would know right away. Tamper protected, etc. It uses the same "do-hickey" that's in the Wii, micro-electro-mechanical systems accelerator. It senses acceleration in the x and y axis. What and how do you charge? 10:24 - Dealer panel discussion starts, hosted by Greg McLochlin. "We're going to peel back layers." The onion metaphor might be my least favorite in the world. Does anybody actually peel onions? Okay, he never actually mentions onions. It's a circles of security thing. More talk about old-school security, lacing, foil, door contacts. We're told, "you're going to be high unless you sell the value." Does that mean the customer is going to see the estimate and say, "What are you, high?" 10:29 - Lou Martenello (sp?), VP at World Wide Alarm in Long Island: Anything with a low-voltage wire, we want a piece of. We have a telemarketer who gets a list every week of all of our existing customers. We spend an hour every week to talk about how we can go revisit those existing customers, maybe someone you haven't talked to in years because they're a "good customer," but really you're just ignoring him and he thinks your service stinks. We started over a year ago spending more time with our existing customer base. We're into Cat-5 wire. Our salespeople have to come back and talk about what their conversation with each customer was. We cross-train all of our sales people to sell all of our products. I'll take them out with me and I'll tell them just write down everything I talk about. Most people are too tunnel-vision, they want to get in and get out. They have come back and show me they made a full solution presentation. We hired an IT person. So I can say, I can do your computers in your business. And I take my residential customers and send out a specific mailing: "Now that we've taken care of your home, would you give us the opportunity to take care of your business." And every salesperson must get an email address from every meeting. We've built up a tremendous email base where we can broadcast about a new product, about a serious situation that might affect their business. You're only limited by your own imagination. We do a very big business with AV in bars. Sales person has to contact each customer within three months after an installation, and has to visit the customer once again within the year. That's the way I've been taught. This telemarketing has been very, very effective for us. Question: What's the incentive program for the telemarketer? Yeah. He gets to continue to be employed by us. 10:38 - Aaron Cahn director of marketing for Eclipse: I'm a big stickler in doing everything electronically, but also face to face. We rarely delivery a proposal electronically or in the mail. Every time that one of my sales guys meets with a client, they hand write a thank you note and send that out. It's one of those cheesy things, but I can't tell you how many times I've been in a blue-collar establishment and there's still that thank you note sitting on the desk or pinned to the bulletin board. It's something that's actually paid dividends for us. The economy has forced a lot of successful businesses to take a step back and see how they can be more efficient, and that's made the strong businesses stronger. One thing we've started to do: We used to have the integrated system price on the top line, soup to nuts. Now with thinner budgets, we go in there with the layers already unwrapped. We can show them how to do it in stages. We still give them the full number, but we're finding that for the bigger systems that's less likely. We tell them just because you don't have the budget today, don't put in a DVR or access system that's going to bind you and limit you for the future. Three years from now you'll have exactly what you want. Lou: I guarantee all pricing for a years. Aaron: We guarantee it for 30 days, but we'll honor it for much longer than that. One attendee: Hey, in person bids are great for the small customers. But the larger guys they want it via email and digitally so they can send it along to all the other people in the organization. For government stuff, they don't want it in hard copy. They shred it and scan it into the system. 10:46 - Mark Norris, manager of the center of excellent, the engineering department, for Interface: Everything that Honeywell sells, we also sell. There is no client that's been served well unless you've addressed all of security, access, and video. One does not preclude the other. We always explore all of those every time. And we segment them in the proposals. We want every decision to be a good 10-year investment. A sales rep that doesn't see the world that way doesn't work for Interface very long. We have about 100,000 monitored accounts. We've been doing remote managed access since the late 1980s. We believe in it very strongly. Now Honeywell has a product that takes the learning curve on that monster and cuts it down to a matter of months. Remote managed access will be a huge growth engine for anyone who wants to learn the skills. We are deluged by people who are trying to cut down on their property management costs, their guard costs, and when you can do remote managed access and a person can manage 10 properties instead of 2, the ROI is only like 10 months, and once you get that message to the bean counters, you've got a signed PO. Greg: Who's having success right now despite this worst recession in the history of the earth? Lots of hands actually go up. Greg: Yup. I'm not participating in this recession. Let's go sell some burg alarms! Let's go sell some access control systems. This is extraordinary. We can get more business in this market, not less. Mark: We've got 700 sites or so that have interactive monitored video. It's a cash cow, but we were frustrated that even though there were IP-based systems, even though we install the solution, the broadband provider is a clown, and your profits go right down the tubes. So we bought a company that has a private internet. (I reported on this a while ago, by the way.) We're dealing with an overwhelming deluge of business right now. We're transferring people over from POTS. And if you can't upsell it, do it for cost, do it for free. There's so much more upsell you can put in if you've got the broadband connection. Then you can start pushing the video, the managed access, all the benefits of your central station. We reward the sales force by having people in strict verticals, some only sell digital voice, managed broadband, and they're coming back with contracts that are 280 locations, but the nice thing that goes along with that is that once you own their broadband connection, you can dovetail into that down the road. But these sales people are all cross-trained, too, so then they're selling the intrusion, the access control, the video management. Always take the conversation to the other layers of the onion (yes, he said onion - he's also talking about sharing more of the pie, which is making me hungry). Now it starts to be a multiplier. If you can have a triple header, and have 400 percent of the take home you would have had just selling one type of product, that makes the sales people hungry. A nice commission from adding on another service is a great way to build RMR. If you've got a bidder type sales person, where they're just showing a price, you're not going to have a lot of success, because someone's always going to be cheaper and dumber. Don't sell parts, sell solutions. Any chump can sell parts. Wayne Becker, VP of business development for CSI, in Allentown, PA: We're a commercial-only dealer, don't do any residential. Three divisions: IT and communications, life-safety, and AV. We go to sales efforts vertically, health-care, education, etc. Once we identify an opportunity, then we get the whole sales team in motion. We can go in and say here's what our video engineers know, here's what our IT engineers know. We did a wireless project for Allentown where we're deploying a wireless camera surveillance system, 65 cameras in right now. One of the things that came together with that was the wireless network, our IT department is larger than many corporate departments. We have two wireless engineers along with a guy who writes custom code. We can go in there with expertise and differentiate between your standard commercial integrator who kind of hopes the signal will get from one point to another. When we did a demo for the city of Allentown, he took a van with the transmitter, we sat in the conference room, and showed them what they would see and how they would operate. We borrow expertise from all three divisions and try not to be just your traditional surveillance or intrusion vendor. Just about every major decision being made, IT is heavily involved in that decision. So it was important to us to have a strong IT team, and make sure that all of our technicians at least understand IT and can talk about it. And make sure that the sales people can identify that it's not a standalone system any more, it's an integrated world out there. They have to understand that it's not about one room, it's about dreaming along with them about where the company is going and where the revenue is growing and what are the goals for the business that we can incorporate into our design to support that growth and those goals. Partnerships have really helped us in the past. There are a lot of pockets of expertise, a lot of niches that a lot of security partners would like to have but don't, so we make our services available to competitors in the marketplace. We'll sign a non-compete and take a part of a project and make it go away so you can offer a solution to your customer you wouldn't otherwise be able to offer. Met with a door company and a question about access control turned into a partnership where we're working with up to 15,000 of their customers to help them add hardware for access control. Greg: you're talking about actually mining your competitors databases and actually leveraging account bases that aren't even yours. That's a beautiful thing. Wayne: Yeah, we're always looking for opportunities to partner with people so we can leverage their database, leverage their trust. Another thing for differentiation: A lot of times we'll talk about video surveillance, and 90 percent of the customers are not technical, they don't care about the pieces and parts. But what they do need to understand is the difference in the resolution, so we'll have our wireless engineer and video engineer set up a program that actually shows the customer the differences between the resolutions, the differences between the products, the frame rates, have the sales people actually demonstrate all the different levels of resolution. Sean Leonard: A common theme there, I heard everything from we just added an IT person to we have a full-blown IT suite. That's something that everyone in this room could probably benefit from. 11:15 - Michael Pope, of Safety Technologies, is going to talk about closing techniques. Michael charges for designs, borrowing from the IT industry, really. That's a message I heard back at the Focus event with PSA and 1inService. The IT guys are flabbergasted that security guys don't charge for design. They love getting paid for the design and letting someone else install it. They hate to install things. Michael claims to close 95 percent of the deals where his company designed the system. However, you've got to make sure your designs are much better looking in terms of deliverables, the look of the proposal, show them what a design should and does actually look like. That way, they don't mistake a competitor's proposal for a design. If the customer claims to already have a design, we say send it over and we'll bid on it. And we'll get proposals faxed to my office. Then I say, it's just a proposal, I can't even bid on that. Do you want a real design? (Now I know this guy is smart: He's talking about leveraging the press and press releases to get more jobs. Wow. An installer who wants to work with the press. And I quote, "Make a point to meet the editors and feature writers for our industry's magazines." Of course, I've never met this guy... Apparently he likes to talk to CEPro. That's fine. I'm okay with that. I don't see CEPro here, though, now do I? Sorry. I'm being a little ridiculous. 4,000 words of typing can make me punchy.) Charge time and materials and project management. I tell them I don't have control of the meetings - I have to work with other contractors and I can't control that. So I have to charge you T&M. Awards and good press establish credibility. Partner with a residential A/V contractor: Large estate security systems can be very lucrative, and they often buy the cool media center first. Plus their customers are usually high-placed executives and business owners that will give you their commercial business, too. Question: So, what do you charge? Michael charges $150 an hour, started at $95 an hour and increased to cover costs. He sees the design department as a profit center and does everything he can to make sure their hours are all billable hours (kind of like a law firm, really). Then, we he gets the job, that money is "credited" back to the client. The smallest design job he's done is $450. There are some jobs - like a convenience store with four cameras - where he won't bother with the design fee. Anything bigger than about 8 cameras, though, the design fee kicks in. 12:00 - Joe Janick is talking about the GSA schedule that Honeywell has, a tool that you can use to do business with the federal government. Essentially, Honeywell has negotiated a price with the government and that makes it attractive for integrators, since that price offers a decent margin for the installer. Most people seem ready for lunch now...

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