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CI Summit: 6 Takeaways Your Business Can’t Ignore

These critical takeaways from CI Summit are must-dos for successful integration firms.

Aaron Stern

During an all-too-brief respite from the early onset of winter, integrators spent three fruitful days learning from one another during the CI Summit, held Nov. 13-15, 2013 in San Diego. Here were six big takeaways.

Stop Selling Projectors: You may disagree with this, but numerous integrators at CI Summit said flat panels have, or should have, entirely replaced projectors as client solutions by now. “It’s just becoming a standard,” said Derek Goldstein, CEO of Maryland-based Casaplex.

Provide Content Creation: If you provide digital signage solutions but don’t in any way offer or provide content creation solutions for your clients, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Time and again at CI Summit, digital signage specialists emphasized the importance of either directly offering such solutions yourself or partnering with a company that can. End users tend to overlook or underestimate the ongoing burden that installing digital signage will create; integrators who can help them solve their content creation and management puzzles position themselves as valued business partners.

Create Recurring Revenue: Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: more and more integrators are getting into the recurring revenue business. But even if clients are reluctant to sign such agreements during the install process, they may change their minds later. One integrator at CI Summit said restaurants and bars often decline service contracts until the run-up to big games when they call integrators back in to fine-tune their systems — and, under the gun at that point, realize the value of routine maintenance and upkeep.

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Measure Your Success: Some companies determine their profit per employee, others their profit per hour. However you do it, using different metrics to determine how successfully and efficiently your company is operating is key. Jeff McDonald, VP of sales at San Francisco-based Anderson Audio Visual says his team conducts fine-grained win-loss analysis in its weekly sales meetings. “The jobs you win, it’s important to know why you won them,” he said. The same goes for the ones you lost.

Your Website Matters: If you treat your website as an afterthought, you’re making a huge mistake. The vast majority of consumers spend a lot of time doing online research before making major purchases, and the same goes for companies. At a bare minimum you should have an inviting website that provides essential information for users. Your basic contact information, including your company’s address and phone number are vital — nothing is more off-putting than a company that seems like it doesn’t care if you find them. You should also include a message portal where interested parties can ask questions and provide their own contact information. “Don’t make it hard for people to get in touch with you — you’re just trying to get engaged with them,” said Netsertive’s Jamie Sasser. That contact form should require a name and an email address and that’s it. Don’t make people jump through hoops just so you can generate a lead. And as more and more searches are done on mobile devices, you should really have a mobile version of your site.

So Does Your General Web Presence: A quality website is an essential starting point, but creating a meaningful web presence that can drive sales is about much more than than just a website. Hopefully you’ve got a web master — or someone who functions as such — who is doing everything they can to boost your company’s web presence so that it turns up in relevant web searches, whether organically or through paid search placements. You should also consider email marketing and retargeted advertisements, the kind that pop up in people’s browser windows advertising your company even after they’ve left your page. And, of course, social media presence is important, especially a Facebook page, said Sasser.