As the pro AV industry continues its steady growth, new value-added resellers (VARs) are entering the field every year. How can VARs differentiate their businesses? For starters, keep in mind the top traits that customers are looking for in a VAR:
1. The right technology.
The broader your product offering—digital signage, video walls, projectors, meeting rooms, etc.—the more likely you’ll be able to meet each customer’s needs. As you learn the pro AV industry, prioritize those systems and devices that are growing in popularity. And be sure to keep your target markets in mind; those customers in the education vertical are looking for very different technologies than those in corporate offices.
2. Experience with the industry and pro AV technology.
Of course, it’s important that your customers feel that you are well-versed in the industry and the technology that they need. While this can be a challenge when you are new to pro AV, the learning curve won’t be very steep if you’re already familiar with IT.
Familiarize yourself with the industry by joining trade associations, such as InfoComm International, and reading their blogs and other publications. Find out whether your favorite vendors offer any VAR training opportunities, and look into classes offered at industry tradeshows and conferences. With each class and each successful install, you’ll be that much closer to feeling like a true pro AV expert.
3. A history of satisfied customers.
It’s one of the first steps for any new pro AV customer: Ask for the VAR’s references. That’s how new customers assess your ability to complete the task at hand. So work to amass a list of satisfied customers, and remember to never burn a bridge. You never know when a previous customer could come back to help or haunt you.
4. Fair prices.
It’s rare that a business wants to be the cheapest or the most expensive option for their customers. Generally, you want to fall somewhere in the middle—with prices that your customers will think are fair.
Do some research to find out what your competition charges for similar products, and take a close look at your own business. If high prices might be keeping customers away, consider lowering your fees and accepting slightly tighter margins. Your business just might benefit in the long run.
5. Ongoing services.
Customers want to know that the system they buy today will be supported for years to come. With any new customer, be sure to discuss your ongoing service and support contracts, warranty offerings, etc. Not only will this help them feel at ease now; it can also keep them coming back to you for additional work in the future.
Does your company offer fast response, no matter the time of day? Do you have a local presence that can help your customers at a moment’s notice? Are you willing to work with them on contract specifics to make sure that their needs are being fully met?
Like any customer, pro AV clients want to feel that their needs and concerns are understood and their money is being spent wisely. Keep your customer top of mind, and stay flexible, and your business will enjoy the benefits.
For many customers, it’s important to find a VAR that has formed some strong partnerships in the industry. This will help them to feel reassured that your business has staying power, has some purchasing clout and can provide them the best products available.
If you’re new to the pro AV industry, consider partnering with a technology distributor to get started. This will help demonstrate to your customers that you are backed by a larger, well-established business and all that comes with it.
What other traits do you think your customers prioritize when looking for a VAR? What do you think has worked for you in attracting previous customers?