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Become a trusted advisor

Sometimes the notion of being an expert is ridiculed.  One scribe put it this way: “An expert is simply someone far away from home and giving advice…”  Perhaps that is not an unfair comment for those who are truly misrepresenting themselves. But alternatively, what if the person is authentic and can add much to the discussion or the recommendation? If we said that person was a trusted advisor rather than an expert, wouldn’t that change our opinion and our expectations? Somehow I think so.

August 30, 2011  By  Rob Colman

As the issues faced by your clients become more and more complex, they need to have trusted advisors. There are simply too many things to be considered for us to expect that a business owner or even a director of security will have enough of an understanding to make an intelligent decision without some external input.

Sometimes that information will come from a consultant. But as often as not, they will want to lean on their service provider: you. Remember that in most situations, the aspects of electronic security represent a very minor part of the day to day responsibilities or concerns of your client. As business owners they are focused on the things that make them money. As a security director, other duties such as investigations, managing staff, establishing procedures, are the dominant areas that consume their time.

This is your opportunity to step into the gap. This is where you become the expert — the trusted advisor — who makes it easy to do business with because you understand their issues and their priorities. And this is how you differentiate yourself from the competition.

There are a wide variety of industries, businesses, organizations and enterprises that you can master. In so doing, you will find ways to increase wallet share and enhance your competitive position. This is hardly a unique approach for the major industry players. All of them find a target industry and then they learn all they can to deliver products and services. Let me offer some examples for your consideration.
Education at all levels continues to be a growing market. Even within this segment there is opportunity for increased specialization. Elementary schools, secondary schools, private schools, residential schools, community colleges and universities all have concerns that are common but each also has some unique problems. Do the research to see emerging trends; ask questions of the authorities having jurisdiction to gain their insight. Be ahead of the curve. As you ask and investigate, look for non-traditional services you might be able to offer.  Our industry has tended to be narrowly focused on electronic security solutions. But what else is of concern to a security director or business owner for which you can offer a solution?
You want to expand your wallet share, especially if there is some level of saturation in your market for traditional security products. For instance, Panasonic has introduced a combination audio and security pendant that equips teachers with the ability to be heard more clearly in the classroom while also having access to an embedded emergency button that summons help. It interfaces with cameras as well to record events when an incident occurs. This is not for all applications, but in higher risk environments, teachers and law enforcement agencies will see the value.


In grocery stores, as with other retailers, shrinkage has an enormous impact on profits. Several components go into the loss, including employee theft, shoplifting, vendor theft and simple accounting error. Major chains have already adopted electronic measures to battle these losses.
But did you know that CCTV surveillance offers another equally important tool against loss? Insurance fraud is rampant and “slip and falls” are often alleged due to wet floors.  CCTV provides excellent verification of these incidents and most will never reach a point of litigation because they can be documented so well.
But grocery stores are obviously not the only potential target for this kind of fraud. What opportunities have you passed by because you looked at CCTV as only a security product? Fast food stores, restaurants, other retailers or government offices are locations where you can make constructive recommendations. It all boils down to the same thing.  Become an expert or trusted advisor and then market your knowledge, experience and expertise in a vertical manner. One application can become the example for others to consider or follow.  And you are the one who will have the reputation and the references to support your claims.

The issue is not so much about market share as it is about wallet share. Once you are in a facility or an organization, you are the trusted advisor.

James B. Brown is a consultant with many years experience in the industry. He can be reached at jbbrown@bell.net

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