Next you arrive at a couple more conference rooms with 55-inch interactive flat panels and USB audio and video solutions. Fettig points out that, since Tierney brings customers into these work spaces it made a point to vary vendors and showcase different options.
There’s an executive conference room that Fettig says has more of a traditional feel. At least, it has a traditional microphone system but it’s intertwined with USB for audio conferencing.
That’s not far from the installer area where technicians are building racks. “They’re separated phases for multiple rack builds, multiple customers to seamlessly be intertwined together. We really focused on the install area.”
The space has a boardroom style, space for testing monitors, a fridge loaded with energy drinks.
That space spins around to the tech service area. “It’s really a large circle throughout the company where you walk through and around,” Fettig says. “There are meeting spaces, conference rooms intertwined with cube spaces. Everybody’s together, not separated. So you’re seeing something different depending on how you walk through the spaces. We really flow well and we’re planned out well.”
Practices and Preaching
Most commercial market focused integration firms don’t have showrooms, so there’s always the challenge of helping their customers envision how the solutions they’re proposing might look in their work spaces.
Tierney doesn’t have a showroom either, but its new work spaces double as incredibly valuable selling tools, says Gag. “I think it’s a sales rep’s dream to have an environment where they can bring people through. It really is.”
“There are meeting spaces, conference rooms intertwined with cube spaces. Everybody’s together, not separated.”
That effect, however, probably works best if the staff genuinely embraces the technologies. Fettig says that’s very much the case with Tierney’s new space. “We’re all using the spaces ourselves, and we’re using them in a way that we are helping to sell to customers and explaining to them how the spaces are used while using them ourselves,” he says.
“We’re not putting in any technology that we’re not using on a day-to-day basis. That really brings the whole thing together. It helps with collaboration, in general, with internal and external customers. We believe in everything that we put into all of these spaces.”
That being said, working in what’s effectively a living, breathing showroom alters the sales approach. Now Tierney has employees whose jobs aren’t traditionally customer-facing interacting with prospects. Gag says he thought about that a lot and considered “the past sales mentality” around being very selective about who actually should be near customers.
“I think we’ve had some of those comments and those worries,” he acknowledges. Through planning, however, in the end “it just became clear that our best way to sell is to show people actually using it than than just demoing spaces and equipment.”
The “living and breathing” — in contrast to the targeted demonstration — approach also takes the emphasis off of the technology itself. Not that integration firms such as Tierney aren’t proud of the technology they’re selling and installing, but today’s customers are often focused on how technology seamlessly blends into an environment.
“AV these days is meant to be functional,” Fettig says. “Form is starting to be more important. So having the backdrop of the new space with an interior designer group that did a great job really kind of brings what we do together. It’s kind of a complete package.”
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Collaboration, for instance, isn’t just about collaboration technology. Fostering effective collaboration involves architectural planning and interior design. Tierney sees that taking place at lunchtime and not necessarily having anything to do with collaboration technology.
“A lot of employees in the past would each lunch at their desks and stay away from the breakroom because it wasn’t an inviting place,” says director of marketing Derek Burns. That has changed in the new space where there are multiple places to make food and sit. “It’s a different dynamic,” he says.
Tierney is finding that the dynamic is resonating across generations. Fettig says the engineering team provides a good example of that. “We have six fulltime sales engineers with ages ranging from around 25 to 65 and anywhere in between, so we have that collaboration between old school and new school,” he says, adding that many departments have similar mixes.
Burns says that Tierney’s employees are also diverse in terms of their comfort level with technology. Not everybody is a system designer, after all. He says the new space’s collaborative environment is being embraced pretty universally.
“It’s nice to see. The audio-visual is getting more user-friendly, the interfaces are more intuitive. Plus, it’s good to get feedback on all levels to see how each room is performing and maybe things we need to tweak a bit before we put it in our customers’ spaces.”
That’s perhaps the biggest benefit from Tierney Brothers’ new space. Many integration firm customers’ organizations are in the midst of a cultural shift when it comes how they work. They’re moving to more open spaces and collaborative environments.
So is Tierney Brothers. It’s easier to understand customers’ potential pain points when you’ve already experienced them yourselves.
When Tierney’s sales team brings prospects through the new workspace, they’re not just showcasing technology options; they’re highlighting a real organization with real employees. In effect, they’re proving that what they’re saying is good enough for the customer is also good enough for them.
For Gag’s part, he likes the impact the space has had on its organization – internally and externally. “To be able to show our customers who we are, where we came from and where we’re going is great. We’re excited for the future and so are they.”