With summer rapidly approaching, value-added resellers (VARs) across the country are preparing for this year’s education buying season, when K–12 schools, colleges, and universities begin the process of updating their technology systems.
Although the buying process can be challenging, it can also yield a significant amount of business for VARs. Research indicates that the education sector is one of the fastest-growing in terms of video surveillance spending. In 2015, IHS forecast that the global market for surveillance equipment in education would grow by about 15 percent.
Despite the incredible opportunity, you must take care when selling to the education market. Not only is it highly competitive, but it is also very high-profile, due to the need for increased security in U.S. schools and universities.
Here we share some of the best video surveillance advice for this year’s buying season:
Provide systems that will make a true difference
Educational facilities are unique, because they face a very real threat of violence from a variety of sources, in addition to more typical risks such as vandalism, theft, and fights between students. Following tragedies such as the shootings at Columbine and, more recently, Sandy Hook, schools of all kinds, in every part of the country, are looking for ways to improve their security and speed incident response.
That’s why the education buying season is no time to try the newest trend or emerging manufacturer. Instead, stick to those systems and devices that you absolutely know work as intended. Any surveillance device that you recommend should be highly reliable and user-friendly, with a history of demonstrated success in education environments.
Demonstrate a strong ROI
Today’s video surveillance technology can help schools do more with less—which is particularly important in public institutions that are facing tight budgets. As you go into the buying season, be sure to emphasize ROI to each of your customers. They will need to be able to see that the technology you recommend will not only help them improve security, but also save money over other alternatives.
Carefully explain the IP-versus-analog decision
Although many schools are eager to make the move to IP cameras, their budgets often limit them to analog. That’s why it’s important for you to walk your education customers through the IP-versus-analog decision. Explain the pros and cons of each, as well as the difference in video quality, feature sets, and other factors.
In many cases, IP cameras will actually be the more cost-effective option over time. This is because your customers can install fewer cameras, thanks to higher-resolution video. In addition, IP offers more effective incident detection and richer features, such as intelligent video analytics, which can boost security, and in turn reduce costs, even more.
Think outside the box
Consider how unconventional camera technology might help create a higher level of security at your customers’ facilities. For example, body-worn cameras are quickly growing in popularity as a supplement to the presence of police or security guards. And at many schools, 360-degree cameras are helping provide a broader field of view in large areas, such as auditoriums and lunch halls, while also reducing the number of cameras required to cover a given room.
Leverage existing infrastructure
Whenever possible, offer to make use of your customers’ existing infrastructure. This can help them save money, while also decreasing the installation time—an important consideration for schools that are open year-round.
Luckily, most schools already have a local area network installed throughout their campuses, which presents the opportunity to quickly and easily add IP cameras without requiring an additional investment in coaxial and power cables. This also makes it more cost-effective for your customer to add devices later on, as their needs change.
Would you say your business is prepared for this year’s education buying season?