It's expensive for sales engineers to sit in airports, on planes, and in cars. In the Internet Age, you can have a video chat that closely mimics an in-person visit.
Many companies who manufacture and/or sell remote site monitoring gear depend exclusively on website articles, phone sales, and (increasingly) video chats.
While these all play a role (after all, you're reading this article now), there's really no substitute for having an engineer come out to your site for an in-person visit.
Let's take a look at the problems with long-distance B2B purchasing - and the benefits of having a manufacturer or vendor visit you in-person:
It's actually never a problem to start buying network alarm monitoring equipment on the web and over the phone. You should work the process like a funnel:
Unfortunately, many people stop at this point. That means they give up on all of the benefits of an in-person visit...
Let me start with an example, years ago, that really illustrated the value of in-person engineering visits for all of my clients:
It all started with a highly custom radio-system project in New York City for one of our long-time clients. We had sold our monitoring systems to this client for decades, but this new device was something entirely new.
The project absolutely necessitated several one-week trips from our HQ in California. We'd develop a prototype, fly to NYC for 5 days of testing, revise the design, then return in a month or two for another round. This, in itself, speaks to the value of visits during custom development - but then something else happened...
On Wednesday, the sales team back at HQ told us about a troubling situation with a different client in upstate New York. As we learned, a key member of their staff had retired. Now, they were locked out of the administrative functions of the system.
The next day, as the rest of the team continued working, I was on-site with this other client at 9AM. Before lunch, I had achieved the following:
After burning a few more gallons of gas and buying another train ticket into NYC, my total incremental cost for this one-day visit totalled less than $250.
My client got exactly what they needed without having to pay anything for it. This later turned into a "pre-purchase visit", as they upgraded their system soon after I got everything back online.
When was the last time you got something like that from one of your vendors without paying for it ahead of time?
The 5 Benefits of In-Person Visits from an Engineer
Here's what you get from in-person visits:
Aside from the intrinsic benefits of a site visit, asking vendors to visit you is a great way to separate the established industry players from the rest.
At DPS, we leverage our 35-year install base to make site visits an efficient part of our operation to best serve our clients.
Obviously, we like visiting clients (present and future), but there are limits to what we can do for smaller projects. For a single $750 alarm remote, we clearly can't buy 2 plane tickets and hotel nights for a dedicated visit.
What we can do (and what we DO do) is cluster our clients together into trips. A typical trip for DPS involves flying into a major airport on a weekend, visiting one or more clients each day (depending on whether they need basic information or in-depth tech support), then flying home the following weekend.
This process makes it possible for us to have factory-based product engineers (not just regional salespeople) visit you at least annually.
In our years of visiting DPS clients, we've learned that 5 different activities comprise the vast majority of time spent on-site. These include:
For all of the reasons and benefits above, you should always ask for a vendor visit before any significant purchase. This absolutely includes remote site monitoring equipment, which must be custom-tailored for your particular network.
I can't speak for the rest of the industry, but we'd love to visit you and discuss your project. To set something up, give us a call at 559-454-1600 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 16 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...
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