Why do most AV integrators NOT sell digital signage?”
Writing from the position of a 30-year veteran of the AV integration world, I think the answer is pretty straightforward. The majority of the AV salespeople, including me, sell what they know. Most of us become creatures of habit, finding it nearly impossible to keep up with all the new technology introductions. So in order to make a living, we focus on a few things and a few manufacturers. Most of the time, it’s those that have paid attention to us and sell those items or solutions.
Many, if not most AV integration salespeople have sold digital signage (DS), but few, very few, upon reflection would admit that they did not actively seek out these opportunities. So what is the ultimate reason that so many AV integrators do not actively sell DS? As an instructor to hundreds of attendees over the course of the last 15 years teaching at DSE and InfoComm, it has been my experience that most AV integrators still want to treat DS as just another traditional AV project with known components. The DS ecosystem is unquestionably more complex and requires salespeople and companies to learn new skills in order to be able to recommend and provide components with which they have had no prior experience.
There are two key areas in which most AV integration companies come up short:
- Content Creation and Management is the number one challenge for any AV integrator to understand and embrace.
- IT knowledge is the second most common challenge that I would identify as a weakness of a general AV integration company.
Warning: On the topic of Content Creation and Management, first understand and accept that if you are not helping your customers to focus and invest in pertinent and relative content that can be quantified on its effectiveness, you are leading them to the path of failure and your reference will be tied with that failure.
Solution: First, get and read the book, Don’t Make Me Think. Engage content creation companies as partners on DS opportunities and walk away from DS opportunities that will not focus and provision for good content. Second, industry salespeople and AV integration companies both have to raise the bar on their IT knowledge and invest in professional development that will make them competitive in this area. To successfully implement a DS solution, all those in our industry must be able to walk the walk on the IT side.
As a group, AV integrators have most certainly missed the growth and profitability from the growth of DS to date. It is not too late for an AV integrator or AV salesperson to engage and ride the wave. However, to be successful at selling DS as a value proposition to potential customers and to do it profitably is to make the commitment to understand the ecosystem of DS and be able to address every element. That means selling more than just flat panels and digital signage players. You’re selling the expertise that brings it all together.