Like many other technology fields, pro AV work requires value-added resellers (VARs) to be familiar with a wide range of different industries. Since you’re likely to encounter customers from such diverse markets as education, corporate, retail, healthcare and hospitality, it’s easy to get a bit overwhelmed.
Luckily, once you understand the pro AV technology itself, your skills will easily carry over from one market to the next. No matter what industry you’re working in, it’s important to understand your customers’ pro AV business—inside and out.
It may require a little legwork, but you’ll be able to provide better service as a result. To understand your customers’ pro AV business, here are a few tips to get started:
1. Ask a ton of questions.
The best way to begin understanding your customers is to ask them questions—and lots of them. If you’re relatively new to the pro AV market, this is the best way to learn the ropes and, in the process, better understand how your customers will leverage AV technology.
Consider questions such as: What are your goals for your new pro AV system (e.g., increased sales, better customer service, improved employee communication, etc.)? Who are the end users of each system? Who will be operating and providing support for the technology? For each project, the answers will be at least a bit different.
As you build your portfolio of pro AV jobs, always remember to ask questions. Don’t assume that you know what your customer needs—even if you’ve done 100 similar projects. Be sure to fully understand each new facility; it’ll pay off in the long run.
2. Visit—and revisit—the site.
In addition to communicating with your customers, being present is also important. Take the time to visit the project site several times during the early stages of the planning. You’ll better understand the facility itself and the business—especially if you go during normal work hours.
Multiple visits will also help you to discover any quirks that are unique to the site, such as WiFi dead zones or wiring obstacles. Not only will this provide your customer with a better-suited system; it will also save you time and headache throughout the project.
3. Do your research.
With a little digging, you can easily understand your customers’ business, and maybe a bit more about their day-to-day operations. Check out each customer’s website, read up on related news articles and start following them on social media. By learning more about the current direction and operations of each business, you’ll be more likely to serve them effectively.
For example, doing some digging online might help you to understand how a healthcare facility has honored its donors in the past and provide new ideas for their donor video wall. Or getting a better feeling for the “personality” of a retail brand could lead to an exciting direction for their digital signage, whole-house audio and other AV equipment.
What other tips would you add to this list? In your experience with customers, what are some of the most difficult verticals to fully understand?