The Five Traits of an Effective AV Sales Executive
Many top AV sales executives don’t get their start in sales, but in the technical, problem-solving part of the industry. This means AV sales experts are particularly knowledgeable about the products they support, and the solutions they can offer.
If that sounds like the kind of sales executive your organization needs, here are five things to look for:
1. Experience – The AV industry is one that comes with a learning curve, even for technically gifted individuals. There are hundreds of hardware and software AV solutions available, and the differences between them can be esoteric to someone outside the field. For instance, a single manufacturer may offer several lines of control modules, each with the same design philosophy but with critical feature differences. Without an experienced eye, it is often impossible to tell them apart, and without that level of insight, an AV sales executive won’t make the most cost-effective decisions for their clients.
Experience is more about the fine details. It’s also about the big picture, which is something that an AV professional can only see once they’ve been involved in several AV projects. An experienced AV sales executive is able to step into their client’s facilities and immediately grasp which products and solutions are needed. This big picture insight saves their client money, both immediately and in the long run, by connecting those needs to optimal solutions.
2. Industry certifications – Experience in the AV industry can be counted in years and in successful projects. It can also be gained through industry certifications, and some of the most successful sales executives are certified for this reason.
Certification is available through many top AV manufacturers and through respected industry organizations like the Audiovisual and Integrated Experienced Association (AVIXA). AVIXA’s Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certification is one of the industry’s most respected and most popular. During CTS certification, AV professionals learn the critical aspects of AV project management, design and installation. This includes performing a proper needs analysis and site survey, both of which are essential parts of the sales process. If an AV sales manager has CTS certification, or similar certifications through reputable manufacturers, that says good things about their technical and project capabilities.
It’s also helpful to consider the executive’s AV firm. AVIXA also certifies AV integrators through its APEX (AV Provider of Excellence) program. APEX-certified firms, like CTS-certified professionals, are committed to standing out in the AV industry by offering top notch customer service, deep technical expertise and problem-solving abilities. If an AV sales manager has earned the trust of an APEX-certified firm, they are likely worthy of their clients’ trust as well.
3. Communication abilities – Industry experience and certification are essential, but AV sales are like other forms of sales in that it comes down to communication. The client communicates their needs and the sales executive communicates potential solutions. Sounds simple, but because AV solutions are complex, it’s important that a sales executive be able to communicate those complexities in a way that makes sense.
AV sales managers are often the point of contact for their clients, which means they are the first people to hear about any technical issues, build issues or other areas of concern. For example, a school may have lingering doubts about whether its teachers are ready for interactive display technology. An AV sales manager can offer training options and help their client walk through the technology’s important features. It takes a good communicator to anticipate and answer these questions, and as AV solutions are considerable investments, that extra bit of reassurance may be the difference.
4. A long range approach – In most industries, salespeople have short term goals. They need to sell something that makes the company money now, and those interests don’t always line up with what their clients are looking for.
Fortunately, the AV industry is different. AV solutions are built to fit a particular client’s needs, so they require expert support and maintenance long after the equipment is installed. If an AV sales executive is selling their clients on something that isn’t designed to work long-term, it won’t be long before that client is looking elsewhere.
That’s why top AV sales executives look beyond the equipment and solutions they’re selling. When it’s time to make upgrades or replace technology, or when it’s time to adopt new solutions, businesses and schools want to go back to the expert they can trust. An AV sales executive builds that trust by accounting for their client’s long range needs, which means they are also committed to their client’s ongoing success.
The integrators that these AV sales executives work for usually offer extended maintenance plans and AV as a Service (AVaaS). Both establish a long-term relationship between the integrator and client, and the integrator acts as the technical partner. They monitor the solution’s performance, provide maintenance regularly and when needed, and help integrate new equipment when it’s time for a tech refresh.
5. Creative problem solving – AV projects are built to the client’s needs, so every AV solution is different, even if they use similar technologies. An AV sales executive should be able to visualize an array of solutions for a particular client. A creative sales executive will see where the equipment will go before it is even ordered, and see how it will all work together. AV sales executives with design experience tend to be skilled at this, as are sales managers with a creative background.
If a sales manager is able to visualize the solution beforehand, they can better communicate it to the client, ensuring both parties are on the same page.
An effective AV sales executive will exhibit these characteristics, because they are all needed to produce an effective AV solution. In short, an AV sales expert should be comfortable in most industry roles, and able to switch between them for a client, ensuring they get an AV system that directly meets their needs while staying within budget.
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