Ask the Board – February 12, 2018 | MIKE WHITE

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What are the top 5 things an AV Integrator must know to achieve profitability in digital signage?”


Digital signage can absolutely be one of the most profitable verticals in which an integrator can engage, but it can also be a very painful and money-losing experience. Here are the top five things an AV Integrator must know to achieve profitability when selling, installing and supporting a digital signage project:

  1. Digital signage (DS) is not a product or box sell, it is a value add to a client’s business. 

Caution, if you do not grasp this concept, you will be one of the many integrators that will have a horrible experience and lose money selling digital signage. You need to step back from the traditional AV equipment sell and recognize that digital signage done properly adds measurable value to the customer’s business. The very first question to a potential customer should be, “What is the value proposition for this investment in digital signage?”

  1. Content is still at the top of the list.

Very few AV integrators have competency in digital signage content. More often than not, content is discussed in general terms, but most integrators do not have a meaningful discussion with their potential clients about the content that will be playing on the screens, who will generate it and who will be accountable for it long-term. To better understand how you should lead your customer on what is good content for digital signage and what is not, read the book entitled Don’t Make Me Think.  Get it. Read it. Own the subject matter.

Content creation can be a real moneymaker and an ongoing revenue source. An AV integrator can either hire a talented content creation person and sell content as part of an ongoing service; or use one of many professional content creation houses and mark up their services a few percent points, which creates revenue on a pass-through and will be an annuity benefit for the length of the relationship.

This is a similar model to insurance sales. Insurance sales people do not make huge commissions on most of their sales upfront. Instead, they make a little for a long time on all of their accounts.

  1. You should never take the Connectivity for Granted.

To ensure a profitable path to a digital signage solution, engage your client’s IT team as quickly as possible. Waiting to engage IT, and getting the famous “Not on my network” response is a sure path to frustration and investing more time and money than should be required. To be able to converse with your potential customer’s IT department, you must speak their  language. if you have not already made yourself a student of AV or IT , now is the time. This is also important to be able to inspire confidence with their IT team for them to let you work on their network. 

You always want to secure a hard wire connection wherever possible. Remember, you must understand their domain requirements and test before you commit to a final budget number or you could end up losing your shirt trying to make your digital signage system work.

  1. Choosing the right CMS (Content Management Solution) i.e. digital signage package is a must for a happy and profitable landing.

With more than 600 CMS solutions on the market, how do you choose the right one and     how do you make sure your customer will agree?

First, recognize that not one CMS will work for every digital signage opportunity. Second, note upfront that distributors in the digital signage business have brought significant value to our industry, the distributor (not all but many) often look at selling digital signage as a box sell – which of course it is NOT. 

Integrators beware – get familiar with a few of these CMS solutions and ask specific questions in support of your customer’s needs. Then ask and require an in-depth demonstration of each solution. Make sure you know exactly how each will be supported (or not), so you’re not left hanging.

Going directly to some of the CMS companies is also a viable path to finding a great CMS.  Ask them upfront, “Does your CMS work for this type of customer?”

Insist on getting a very thorough demonstration and then ask the same question.   “How will I be supported?”  When something goes wrong, don’t want to be saddled with the financial consequences you want the CMS company to bear that onus.     

Remember, to find the right CMS, you have to ask the right questions of both the  customer (delivered as a statement of work), and of the distributor or CMS company.

         Which leads us to next and last tip for being profitable …

  1. Asking the right questions.

You must know what questions to ask. These questions can be secured from several resources:

  1. You could go to LyleBunn.com and purchase his digital signage information.   I assure you it is worth every dollar invested.
  2. You could go to dseg.org – Another great resource – Alan and Jonathan Brawn are two gifted teachers and they offer certification course you can take on line

Your questions create greater value in the relationship because they will set you apart from others who sell digital signage as a box.  That’s also why it’s important to know the digital signage ecosystem and ask key questions about every element 

Ask questions that establish clear paths and allow you to write clear and concise statements of work and ultimately you will have a happy and profitable landing selling digital signage.

Most AV integrators will not invest their personal time to do all of the above, and they will lose money on the first few projects. This destroys any hope of gaining repeat work or references, because it ensures that the projects do not work out well.  Putting forward expectations that are not realistic happens when the proper work is not done in advance.  

That’s also why the classic AV salesperson avoids digital signage opportunities because they know they will fail.  While a little fear is healthy, because it keeps you on your toes, digital signage can be the most profitable opportunity in an integrator’s tool bag, but only with proper planning and homework will an integrator have the expertise to do digital signage right the first time.  

 

About Author

Senior Solutions Specialist
Unified Technology Systems

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
Pro AV Council

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