Connecticut Alarm & Systems Integrators Association

Maximize Manufacturer Relationships

By Andre Greco – Xcelerate Sales, LLC


As dealers, we all know the value a great manufacturer (or technology partner as I like to refer) and that manufacturer’s salesperson can bring to our businesses. The key factors I always looked for were likeability, meaning could I work with this person, and availability. The salesperson who would answer my call on a Friday afternoon or do a quote for me on the weekend because I needed to get a bid in on Monday, always earned bonus points in my book. The three areas listed below can help you to start and/or strengthen your relationship with a manufacturer and their salesperson.


Don’t Waste Time (Yours or Theirs) – When that call comes in from “Joe the widget sales guy” on a Friday afternoon, while you are trying to plan next week's installation schedule, do yourself and Joe a favor by asking three very quick qualification questions to determine if you should continue the conversation or schedule a time to meet.


  1. Currently we lead with brand X as our camera solution. Tell me how you are better.
  2. What benefits does your product offer that I can bring to my end-user customers?
  3. What can you do as a manufacturer to help me grow my business?

By asking these three questions, you will get an understanding of a few things. First, how well does Joe know his competition and the unique value proposition of what he is selling? Second, does Joe understand how you as a dealer go to market and how products and services you provide to end users need to deliver a solution to a problem? Last, you will know if Joe cares about you as a dealer and wants to help, or if he simply wants to push product down your throat.

Require that your manufacturer’s salesperson delivers sales training - Sales training does not occur with demo kits, PowerPoint presentations, or brochures during a 45-minute lunch and learn in your conference room. Sales training should help you, your salespeople, and your technicians (yes, techs are salespeople too) understand the benefits that the products deliver to your end-user customers. The products may be cool and state of the art, but end users do not buy features. End users buy an outcome or a solution to a problem that they have. If you and your team understand the benefits that a particular feature delivers, it will be much easier to convey that information to your end user and it will position your company as one that is focused on customer relationships, versus just selling a deal. Set a very clear expectation with your manufacturer’s representative about the type of training you are looking for before they are allowed to come into your office and meet with your team, regardless of how awesome a lunch they are bringing. Installation and troubleshooting should be a different session all together and should include someone from the manufacturer’s team who completely understands the products, installation methodology, networking, and serviceability.

Don’t ask for a “standard” demo - This is where a true partnership enters the mix and can also lead to winning a project versus losing it. Please don’t ask your manufacturer's salesperson to do a demo for one of your customers without having a strategy session before said demo occurs. You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for a strategy session, the manufacturer’s salesperson should be able to come in and just do a demo right”? Nope, not right. Think about it just for a moment. Cameras, a VMS, an access control, system, etc. all have a lot of features and functionality. Unless the salesperson knows what the customer is looking for, they are forced to do what I call a “standard demo.” We have all seen the standard demo. Every screen, every feature, no engagement, no questions, and an audience that spends more time on their phones than listening. Snoozefest! Having a strategy call before the demo will allow the manufacturer’s salesperson to create a demo that hits the areas that are of concern to your customer. If they throw in 1-2 new or unique features, that is ok, but no more than 1-2. It is incumbent on us as dealers to arm our manufacturer with as much knowledge of the customer, their existing system, their problems, and desired outcomes so that the demo is targeted and relevant. The actual demo should take no longer than 15-20 minutes. Any longer and you will lose the audience.

The three areas above are a few of the reasons I started looking for technology partners instead of manufacturers. A strong technology partner can help you grow your business.