ORLANDO, Fla.—“The Big Picture” was the focus of Honeywell’s annual event for authorized dealers, Connect2014.
The conference, held here, started Nov. 13, but the glitzy kickoff was on Friday morning with a general session that was quite a production, featuring a live orchestra, big screens, top execs, award winners and more.
Marek Robinson, president of the First Alert Professional and CSS Authorized Dealer programs, told the audience that “The Big Picture” means taking a step back and looking at everything that’s going on in the world and the industry. “How does it impact the industry? What are your resources to deal with it?” Those are the questions dealers should be asking, he said.
People are spending from three to five hours a day on their devices, said Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security, and they’re inundated with technology. Honeywell and others have been waiting for this trend for a long time, but that also means a slew of new entrants are going after a piece of Honeywell’s pie—31 new start-ups just in October, he said. However, the power of the Honeywell brand and the upcoming investments the company will make in technology, marketing and advertising will prevail, he said.
Alex Ismail, Honeywell Automation and Control Systems president and CEO, said Honeywell aspires to be the Apple of industrial companies when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. A five-star customer experience was a recurring theme throughout the two-hour session. (More on that later.)
Inder Reddy, president of Honeywell Security Products Americas, reminded dealers that while they need to adapt to the new environment they also need to stay grounded in the fact that they are protecting families, homes and businesses. “Security is still central to the Connected Home and Connected Building,” he said.
Authorized dealer tenure awards were presented, and the general session wrapped up with a moving tribute to the folks who helped saved a little girl’s life—they received the Life Safety award. A 6-year-old boy, a nurse, a Palm Bay, Fla., police officer and the Palm Bay Fire Department all played a crucial role in resuscitating an 8-year-old girl who was found unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool. She was on stage to present the awards to her heroes.
The second general session of the day featured a boisterous Rudy Wolter, director of the North America Region of Citigroup Security and Investigative Services and a key player in Honeywell’s End Users Group. A “five-star” experience for end users is “partnership, not perfection,” he said. (More on this later, too.)
Raymond Dean, former president and founder of PEI and now senior vice president at MSA Systems Integration, spoke on treating customers as a company’s best assets.
“Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you,” Dean said.
Visit customers regularly when there are no problems and they won’t associate you with negative connotations; don’t send new hires out to a homeowner without a formal introduction from someone they know; show respect, he said.
“Growth makes us complacent, the roots of our success get forgotten,” Dean said. Customers made you a success, don’t drift away from customer service, he added.
Keynoter Jeffrey Gitomer, a best-selling author and sales and customer service professional, gave a humorous and insightful talk to the appreciative crowd. He discussed the need to be adept at social media to boost company reputations and branding, because “the old way of selling doesn’t work anymore. Social media has changed the way you sell and serve forever.” (More on this later, too!)
I also attended three breakout sessions, the first of which was “Communication Strategies—2G, 3G, 4G and Beyond,” Dan Jarnigan of Guardian Systems, Dave Hood of EPS and Alan Buffaloe of Gill Security discussed their approaches to customer upgrades.
Next was a discussion on the Connected Home with Jeremy Bates of Bates Security, Larry Comeaux of Acadiana Security Plus and Rence Coassin of American Total Protection. The panel discussed tailoring “connectedness” to meet customers’ needs, while reminding customers that security comes first.
Honeywell’s Jan McBride presented “The next BIG THING: Emerging Technologies.” It’s not just wearable devices, she said, showcasing a number of other products—“not sure if they’re creepy or cool”— that could impact the industry. Those include Bluetooth-enabled gloves; smart appliances that can text you when, for example, your clothes are finished in the dryer and refrigerators that can track your eating habits; smart doorbells that allow you to “answer the door” via cellphone even when you’re not home; and home robots that can not only read to your children, but can remind you of appointments and take photos of your events so you can be in the pictures.
Eye-tracking technology, gesture recognition (to pull down window blinds, for example) are all here now, McBride said. “These trends will be a driving force in terms of home automation. The impact on our business is whether these things are of real value or are these applications a passing fad?”
On the final day of Connect 2014, Steve Means, district sales manager for Honeywell in Texas, encouraged dealers to leverage Honeywell’s services to grow their businesses. “Connected solutions are what your customers want, and it will be good for your business,” he said during the morning’s general session. From detecting mold to being notified when kids get home from school, along with myriad other applications, it’s the way to go, he said.
Russ Ackerman, district sales director for Vector Security, said his company’s RMR will be up 20 percent this year because of Connected Home. He doesn’t care about competition. “I don’t care what Comcast and AT&T are doing. Competition is for crybabies, sissies and whiners. I don’t want to compete. I want to dominate.” Connected Home will “help get us there,” he said.
New selling techniques are required. Where before Vector would use with its customers a “security evaluation questionnaire,” now it uses a “lifestyle analysis,” Ackerman said. Vector gives prospective customers a test drive of its products rather than “glossy pictures” of those products. It shares a two-way voice demo during the sales presentation.
“We’re closing 83 percent of presentations on the first call,” he said.
Other speakers during the general session drilled down on Connected Building for the commercial sector.
I attended two educational sessions later in the day, one on “Building Your Brand,” the other “Creating a Culture People Love.”
John Schwartz, marketing director for ADS, discussed a number of branding myths—for example, that branding is complicated, expensive and had to be done solely by marketing professionals; advertising vs. branding—advertising is pushing the message out, branding is solidifying that message; and social media’s power, both pro and con—“if someone is mad at you, they can go on every social media outlet and let everyone know.”
Sales people should be involved in branding, with input from customers, Schwartz said. Companies should pick one word they want to be associated with, such as “trust,” and take it from there, he said. Facebook can be used for “sideways selling:” let people know how your company helps the homeless or conducts other community service projects, he said.
At my final Connect2014 educational session, LOUD Security’s John Loud explained how his company, with 57 employees, has built its culture to be engaging and fun. It all starts with company leadership, he said. Events for employees, teamwork and recognition all matter, he said. (Read more about this later, too!)
Complete with a ‘70s Fever Costume Party and the Awards Gala, Connect2014 put on a big event in keeping with its “Big Picture” theme.