The Digital Signage Insider

Tailoring Your Digital Signage Sales Pitch to Customers' Needs

Published on: 0000-00-00

Have you ever watched someone try to describe something that you yourself have an intimate knowledge of? No matter how skilled and experienced they may be, it's hard not to jump in, exchanging their explanations and vocabulary with your own. I find myself getting ever-so-slightly edgy at meetings, sales briefings and conferences when listening to others describe digital signage networks. Even though the person doing the talking is frequently an expert, I still want to phrase things my own way, as if doing so would suddenly make the concepts being explained so much clearer (I'm pretty sure it wouldn't). But there are two very common cases where jumping in really might make a difference: when a "technical" person pitches a "communications" person (for lack of better terms), and vice-versa. Whether working on a big network project or a small one, I find that the sooner you frame your sales pitch in terms that the user/buyer understands, the more successful the project will be.

Scenario #1: Digital signage is a technical solution to an existing content problem

If you're pitching a digital signage network to a prospective client, it's hard not to lead with a somewhat technical explanation. After all, saying "we put some screens in your venue and send content to them over the Internet" is an accurate, if not somewhat bland, description of the functional core of our industry's products and services. To boot, most VARs (and certainly most Pro AV resellers) are technical folks themselves, so any pitch is likely to start from their technical comfort zone. The problem is that this explanation doesn't really describe what the system does. It'd be analogous to describing movie posters as "every two weeks a couple of guys come to your theater and put some big pieces of paper on the wall." Accurate? Sure. Explanatory? Kinda. Descriptive? Not so much.

Technical descriptions of this sort are commonplace. And the Internet, and indeed digital signage itself, is ubiquitous enough that a one-sentence technical description isn't likely to scare anybody away. But getting much more technical, or focusing on the technical benefits versus the use case benefits, is only useful in certain situations. As usual, it comes down to knowing your prospective customer's pain points. For example, if you know a client spends a lot of time and manpower updating bulletin boards across their corporate campus, or if they have to get out a ladder every time they want to make a menu change, or if they have trouble coordinating content changes across multiple venues at once, pushing on the technical merits of digital signage makes sense. The "problems" here are centered around not being able to easily change content. Thus, the solution is to offer a way to make content changes easier. Either way, the benefits should be clear enough that you can encapsulate them in a short elevator pitch, and expand upon those benefits in a longer presentation or proposal once the customer has confirmed their interest.

Scenario #2: Digital signage is an opportunity to add content where there wasn't any before

Notice that in the examples above (which are admittedly the easy ones), digital signs are being pitched as a replacement for some other kind of existing signage or communications medium. In these cases, the prospective client has already found a compelling reason to have content in the venue. Now they just need a way to make that content better, easier to manage, or both. But what about cases where digital signs are being added into an environment, and not necessarily replacing anything? Generally speaking, proposals of this sort need to be focused on the benefits of the use of the signs, and not the signs themselves. Nobody adds a video wall to a corporate lobby because they found it too difficult to change a vinyl backdrop or lobby fixture. They add it, first and foremost, to inject "wow factor", and secondly to have a better chance of imparting some bit of information to people walking past it. Merchandising signs in a retail store indeed might augment or supplant some static POP displays, but they're sold on the benefit of being able to raise awareness (due to their uniqueness relative to other things in the store), and their potential for interactivity via touchscreen or mobile integration. For this type of customer application, digital signage might be treated as a luxury or discretionary purchase -- and understanding that perspective may be essential in making the sale.

In conclusion, I want to touch on one last argument that gets bandied about when pitching digital signage. The argument in question can be effective when thoroughly researched. And it will positively kill deals if not. I'm of course referring to the spend money/save money argument, which goes something like this: "You spend $X updating your vinyl menu graphics every month. If you spent $Y on a digital menuboard, you could amortize that amount over some period of time, make your content changes for free, and thus save $Z over the life of the system." Generally speaking, businesspeople are willing to make an investment when they see the real potential for savings. But any attempt to gloss over one of the key factors (e.g. the life of the system) or relying on any poor assumption (e.g. how much the client really spends on printing and shipping) will quickly scuttle the argument, making it very difficult to convince the client that you're the right expert for the job. The bottom line: if you know your numbers cold, you know your client's pain points, and you can make a bulletproof argument showing a real ROI, that's almost certainly the best pitch you can deliver. Whether you're talking to a technical person, a communications person, or a business person, the language of dollars and cents is universal.

Which other scenarios do you come across on a regular basis? Do you have a standard pitch for those customers, or is it customized for each one?


+1 # digital signage saas 2010-10-22 17:59
Some great knowledge shared with us there. Thanks.
+1 # SteveCWhitehead 2010-10-24 09:27
Agree with your observations Bill. I just wanted to add to your conclusions on the bottom line about ROI - I don't think the ROI pitch can ever be bullet proof if there is any element of 3rd party advertising in the content? There are unknowns with the retailer securing the advertising; this is often outside of their core business focus with risks of cannibalizing the suppliers in-store marketing budget. One way to make it bullet proof is to outsource the advertising and ask for guarantees; which would be ridiculous to sign-up to, especially for any new start up network and the current economic climate? As ever, it comes down to business model, in this case, where the funded network model has the potential to work - e.g. network supplied free of charge/subsidized, with a share of air time and advertising profits to the retailer; where the network owner is focused on the media advertising element? ... but the network owner had better have his costs under control!
0 # Alex Bernier 2010-11-06 22:30
Thanks Bill, what you've said explains a couple key sales situations for DS. From my experience, there's only minor consistencies of what selling points are communicated. There are two more situations that I can think of which can help a customer see value: 1) Customer satisfaction: Describe how DS system can enhance a customer's experience, or decrease common frustrations. An example may be a waiting room application, where customer's are asked to check-in, and fill out paperwork before an appointment. If the process or paperwork is confusing, it can be frustrating for a customer to have to ask an attendant to explain. Enhance a customer's experience by explaining the process, or faqs on a digital display. Visuals are easier to understand, and the customer does not need to feel uncomfortable by asking someone for help. The ROI of this situation is not directly measurable, but can certainly justify the need for a display. 2) Employee Productivity: Describe ROI in terms of real-time communications. Say you approach a business whose production metrics are measured on a daily basis-ex: a factory, or even a call center. Displays can be set to automatically update/grab data for instant communications. Employees are happy because they are instantly aware of their progress, and no longer need to rely on common white boards in break rooms with quotas that are updated maybe twice a day. Of course, you can see why managers would appreciate constant oversight of metrics as well. So to wrap up, I agree with your statement that most AV specialist's initial reaction is to jump into the amazing technical details. But these technical details are only the paints that are used to paint a picture. Describing simple colors will not help a client see the whole picture come together. Start broad, identify needs, and paint the benefits picture in terms that are easy for the customer to relate to. Best of luck. Alex

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