Show Your Customers What They Need

Jon Sienkiewicz
When consumers realize what’s available, they’ll buy

Do you remember the first time you saw a light dimmer? I do. It controlled the chandelier that hovered over my aunt’s dining room table. She also had an outside light that automatically came on at dusk and turned off at dawn. She wasn’t affluent by any means, and certainly not a techie or a geek. In fact, she could not explain the technology behind either device. All she knew was that they worked as intended, and made her life a little easier and more enjoyable.

“How did you ever find out about things like this?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “Funny thing,” she said. “I didn’t even know I needed them until your uncle hooked them up and showed them to me.”

Fast forward a few decades. Your customers are not much different. There is an entire universe of useful automation products that could make your customers’ lives a little easier and more enjoyable, if only they knew about them. The most dramatic of these products (let’s call them conveniences) are the ones that operate transparently in the background, like my aunt’s automatic off-at-dawn yard light.

With a whole-house automation system, an amazing list of magical things can be programmed to happen automatically based on changes in particular aspects of the home’s environment. For example, URC’s Total Control offers six sensors that can detect subtle changes in surrounding ambient light, noise levels, current fluctuations, and so forth. An event can be programmed to happen when one or more of those changes occur. Here are some specific examples.

Imagine walking into a home theater and having the window shades automatically begin to lower when you close the entryway door. A contact closure sensor can be set to make that happen.

You are now seated comfortably, watching a movie. The doorbell rings. A voltage sensor detects the button press and sends a signal up the control chain to trigger these events: audio volume is set to mute, theBlu-ray player pauses, the overhead lights increase brightness to a predetermined level.

The next morning at dawn, the walkway lights on your back patio go dark automatically (thanks to a light sensor). Your teenager presses the PlayStation’s “on” button and the family room configures itself for gaming—surround sound on, lights drop to 65 percent and shades drop down so that the neighbors cannot see how your child spends Saturday mornings. At 10:30 a.m. your beagle barks and—yep, you guessed it—the gaming adventure grinds to a sputtering halt (audio sensor at work) and Junior puts down the game controller in favor of walking Fido.

Wait, we’re not done—we’ve just gotten started. Using video, light, audio, current, voltage and contact sensors there is virtually no limit to what an integrator can program a whole-house system to do. These are theultimate accessories. To paraphrase Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Cool, eh? Well there is one small fly in the ointment. Your customers don’t know that they need these conveniences. They don’t even know they exist. That means you have the golden opportunity to be the champion who introduces all of this magic to your clients.

Selling dimmers into a custom installation should be easy. Install a wall box dimmer in the theater room and tell the customer that you’ll come back to remove it if they don’t find that they love it. Oh, you’ll go back to service the install, that’s for sure, but you’ll be adding more dimmers throughout the house. Once your customer has experienced the joy and convenience of having remote control of their theater lighting, they will not be willing to part with it.

Other magical automations are a bit harder to demonstrate. You can play “close your eyes and imagine…” but you’re more likely to get positive results by shooting a short video and presenting it to your client using your tablet or smartphone. It’s much easier to do than it may seem.

For instance, if you want to demonstrate the first example listed above (shades automatically lower when you close the entryway door of the theater room) you could simply video someone walking in and closing thedoor, and then cut to the shades. Explain in a brief narration that the door closing triggered a contact sensor that told the system what to do. Show it from a couple different angles if you want—and have a youngster do it to show how easy and automatic it is.

Remember what my aunt said: “I didn’t even know I needed them until your uncle hooked them up and showed them to me.” Let those words be your guide to selling accessories.

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