“The devil is in the details” is a phrase that means the minutiae of a task or project are where mistakes usually occur. A terrible, but commonly heard story in the security industry is the one where police fail to arrive on time to an alarmed premises because the subscriber’s address was mistyped into the central station database. It’s an extreme example of what could happen as a result of the same customer information, or data, being entered into different databases at different times by different people — all at the same company.

A more common example of the devil being in the details is one in which the need to repeatedly enter the same information and the need to perform other routine tasks manually, when they could be automated, creates severe inefficiencies, communication hurdles with employees and customers, and a slow stranglehold on your growth and profit. This problem can be offset by having a great back-office software solution — preferably one that is specific to the security installation/service and monitoring industry.

Research says that 9 out of 10 small business owners use at least one software solution to run their business. But not all businesses have databases that are integrated, which still results in operational inefficiencies. And what’s more, not all businesses have automated as many functions as could be automated. They may still be using software that they bought eight, nine, 10 years ago — and it hasn’t grown with them and it seems too overwhelming to change.

But change can be beneficial, and the trade-off for taking the plunge into the world of software evaluation is that you can quickly see a return on investment and a boost in your competitiveness factor. As Larry Halpern of Safe Systems comments about his company’s back-office software, “I couldn’t imagine running my business without it. We’d probably need double the staff.”

This issue of SDM focuses on back-office software. The cover story, “An Extra Employee Behind the Scenes,” beginning on page 63, profiles four different security companies — an SDM 100 dealer, a national systems integrator, a small family-owned dealer, and a contract monitoring station — on their selection and use of industry-specific software solutions. They discuss the impact that their selections have had on customer service, efficiency and competitiveness. In addition, a report from the MKS – Micro Key Solutions annual users conference, on page 24 and online at www.SDMmag.com/MKS-Users-Conference, looks at the company’s newest product, Millennium Stark. 

Meet SDM’s New Columnist, Brian Offenberger

This issue of SDM marks the start of a new monthly column, “Sales Stars,” written by Brian Offenberger.

Since 2006, Brian Offenberger has emerged as a marketing and sales thought leader — first on “Online Marketing with RSS Ray”(wsRadio.com, 2006-2011), and for the past eight years as a keynote speaker. Offenberger described his own style as a combination of “no bull honesty and big ideas.”This spring, this same combination will be on display in his book, “Salesperson 3.0: The New Ways of Selling.”

In addition to his radio show, Offenberger owns Right On – No Bull Marketing, a digital marketing and mergers and acquisitions agency, and NJL Sales Training, a salesperson performance accelerator.

Offenberger started in the security industry in 1983 as marketing and sales director of a then SDM 100 company. He was part of the senior leadership team of an SDMDealer of the Year, and had complete profit/loss responsibilities in the Western U.S. for one of the world’s largest integrators. He has trained and managed numerous award-winning salespeople, including three Rookie of the Year award winners.

Check out Offenberger’s first installment of Sales Stars in this issue. “16 Things to Never Do on a Sales Call”appears on page 56.

 Offenberger is a top-rated keynote speaker about marketing and selling in the Internet, social media and mobile era. His speaking services have been used by Kodak, Toyota Dealers Association, National Speakers Association, Institute of Management Consultants and hundreds of other companies and organizations.