|Posted on April 2, 2013 at 2:05 PM|
When you think about it, we custom integrators work in a strange industry… An industry unlike any other.
Often we encounter people that not only aren’t sure exactly what it is we do, but also aren’t sure they even want or need what we offer. This is a dynamic pretty much unlike any other shopping/buying experience.
As an example, consider a typical purchasing encounter that people might go through.
Customer: “I want to buy a (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine).”
Salesman: “OK. Do you have your eye on anything in particular?”
Customer: “Well, I’ve been doing some research and I really like this (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine).”
Salesman: “That’s an excellent choice and a great (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine). All of my other clients that went with that have really enjoyed their purchase. Do you have any specific questions?”
Customer: “Well, can I get it in (blue, gold, a custom frame, this vintage)?”
Salesman: “I’m sure we can accommodate you. The price would be $X; was that in your budget?”
Customer: “Yes, I’ve done my research and already pretty much know what this (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine) was going to cost. I’d just like to discuss some options and see how that would affect the final price.”
In this – and most shopping instances – the customer knows exactly what they want, they have an idea what the options are, and a general idea of what it costs.
Contrast that with a far more typical encounter that we custom integrators typically face.
Customer: “What is it that you people do?”
CI: “Well, we design and install audio/video and control systems in people’s homes.”
Customer: “Oh. OK. Well, I think I might want to buy a (home theater, housewide audio, automation) system.”
CI: “OK. Let me ask; have you seen anything in particular that you liked?”
Customer: “No. In fact, I have absolutely no idea about this stuff. None. Like zero. I’m not even sure I actually want to buy one. My cousin’s, friend’s, neighbor’s lawn guy said something about it, so I figured I should look into maybe buying one. Or something. Honestly, I’m pretty happy with my system right now. I just thought I’d see what is out there.”
CI: “OK. Well, there are quite a few options available; let me show you some different things. So I can better determine which system might be right for you, do you have any idea what your budget might be?”
Customer: “Look, I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what this stuff costs. Could be a $100, could be, I don’t know, $1,000. But if I tell you my budget, then you’re just going to give me something that costs exactly that, whether that’s what I need or not. If I tell you $5,000 then you’re going to give me a system that costs $5,000, aren’t you?”
CI: “Probably. But some of that will depend on your room and your (viewing, listening, control) needs and performance goals. But with a budget in mind, I’ll be able to give you the best system that your $5,000 can buy instead of just guessing what your budget might be and then grossly over or undershooting it.”
Customer: “Well, I don’t want to spend no $5,000, I can tell you that much. Maybe you just need to work up a few different options, like good, better and best.”
CI: “Well, that’s really three times the work for me and still might end up missing the target. Are you looking for ‘best’?”
Customer: “I don’t need no Sony or Bose or top-of-the-line or anything. I just want something good. You know. Good picture and sound. But I’m not trying to have some kinda damn (movie theater, concert hall, recording studio, night club) in my house. I just want something good.”
CI: “OK. Give me just a moment to go in the back room and (beat my head against my desk for five straight minutes while I question my faith in humanity) get some information and then I’ll show you some different things.”
Customer: “OK. Oh, and while you’re back there, I’m probably going to be looking up prices on the Internet of all the things that you might show me...”
The only way that I can possibly put myself into the “I have no idea” mindset of one of our typical clients is if I were going shopping for, oh, I don’t know, a bunch of high-speed centrifuges, or avionic turbine blades or something. How much do they cost? Which speed or alloy options do I need? Why the hell am I even considering buying them?!? Exactly.
So, how can you help people that are so far outside of their element that they might as well be shopping for the most obscure, unknown thing you can think of?