More Problems, More Money

Connected world

In an increasingly connected world, with seemingly exponential growth in the technology market, the idea of a Smart Home has now become a reality, providing the ability to digitally enhance our lives like never before.  Add to this the expanding capabilities of voice activation systems like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple Home, and we are fast approaching a Jetsons like world where we can either tell the home environment what we require or pre-program it to react to very specific scenarios or triggers.


Why should only your lights turn on when you walk into the room?  Why not your TV and heat pump as well.  Instead of your fridge just keeping the milk cold it can now tell you when it is running out or even order it for you along with the rest of your groceries.  Even in my own home, and I am a complete techno-tard, when I say “Alexa, good morning”, my kitchen lights turn on, I get a traffic and a weather report followed by a sports update and news briefing, and soon it will turn the jug on as well.  Other automation systems use the GPS proximity of your smart phone as a trigger for automated routines, such as the heat pump at home turning on as you leave the office, the garage door opening as you pull into your street, the lights in the house turning on when you enter the garage and the TV turning on as you walk into the lounge.


These rapid advances demonstrate just how important it is for installers to be ahead of the curve regarding current and emerging automation technologies and add-ons, their application, installation, cross-compatibility, and respective costs.

With the rapid growth of the IOT (Internet of things) the smart home system developers are having to work relentlessly to ensure compatibility with other apps and devices and it is important to understand the partnerships between developers as this ensures more seamless integration; such as the Sony Bravia app and the Amazon Alexa system, allowing users to tell their TV to find specific programs or movies while at the same time turning on the home theatre system and dimming the lights in the room.


Amazon Speaker Security


With all these time, thought, and labour-saving technologies available the possibilities to upsell based on solutions rather than extras, are more abundant than ever.  The key is to find out what problems the customer needs to solve, as Norman Peale said “every problem has in it the seeds to its own solution” so question the customer about the current issues they face in their daily routines or with their current technology.  For example, the customer is away regularly for work and is worried that with the house unattended in the evenings someone will eventually break in but doesn’t want to put in a full security system because it is a rental.  With an Amazon Alexa and Phillips Hue bridge and lamps, you can pre-program an “away” routine whereby individual lights turn on at specific times in the evening along with the TV, all turning off in a sensible sequence at bed time, or install some wireless, Zigbee controlled PIR’s or cameras, that will send an alert to your phone when they are triggered.  An installer I know has his Zigbee controlled lights and his alarm system connected through Google Home so when the alarm triggers, all the lights in the house flash red.  While this is merely and enhancement for him, it would be a very valuable solution for someone who is deaf.


A good way to gain an understanding of the customers requirements is to ask them to walk you through a standard day in their life, this will help you understand what problems they may face or what enhancements they would find useful, it is also important to understand the budget and to get a feel for how much importance they place on automation technologies, the latter is usually easy to determine whereas the budget can be a bit harder as the customers willingness to pay will differ depending on the relevance and effectiveness of the solution.

One thing to avoid is telling the customer what they need, instead ask them, then tell them about products that could solve the problem, and ask them how they see the proposed solution working for them; confirmation bias is a phenomenon whereby we will interpret new information in a way that affirms our existing beliefs, so allowing the customer to come to the conclusion themselves is far more likely to result in a sale.


So, to really take advantage of the available opportunities, you should first know what products/solutions are available, their compatibility with existing technology, and their capabilities, then determine the problems the customer has that can be solved with those products, and their willingness to pay for the solution, describe the potential solutions and ask the customer what they think.  If possible, a hands-on demonstration is always more powerful and if it can be easily set up in the customer’s house the solution will usually sell itself.

And remember that problems are just opportunities in disguise.