The adage “get to know your customer” has never been more accurate than in selling smart home products. The deeper down you can drill, the more information you can uncover, the better the chance that you can make a sale. 

Take a smart lock, for example. The customer is obviously buying it for security. But there are so many locks on the market, what are the criteria that are going to help the dealer sell the right product? There are myriad questions that the dealer needs to ask to ensure that the customer end up with the optimal product for their unique lifestyle and daily routine or whether they purchase a smart lock at all: 

  • Does the buyer have children? How old? 
  • Do they have pets? 
  • Do they have parents living at home, or on their own close by? 
  • Will the lock be interfacing with other smart lock products? 
  • Are there service providers coming to the house during the day? 

As with most products, the more you know about your potential customer, the higher the likelihood that you will generate a sale. The questions above are just a sample of the ones that a savvy dealer would ask their customers in order to elicit insights about their lifestyle, daily routines, and security needs. 

I subscribe to the theory that that no amount of knowledge is too much when it comes to gaining an advantage in the sales process. Acquiring the most basic information is a given; the question is, how far can you, as a dealer, drill down into your customers’ profile to attain information you may not have thought of obtaining? The question isn’t whether it would be advantageous to have the information; the question is, how do you get it? And more importantly, how do you get it in a way that is appropriate and doesn’t pry into the customers’ personal lives?

Kwikset subscribes to a service that provides demographic information about lock purchases. It’s broken down into a variety of categories and sub-categories, but among them is one entitled “Electronic Locks: Connected.” Within that category, there are a number of useful reports that can be generated, such as Summary Reports, Share Trends, Purchase Process, and Demographics. 

The demographics reports are particularly intriguing. You can see purchases made by age group, income level, home ownership, education level, number of family members in household, even time at the current address. We not only use this information internally to help us better understand the buying patterns and habits of the various demographics, but we also create infographics that have appeared in numerous industry publications and websites to assist dealers in their sales efforts. 

Would it be helpful to know that the age group of 65-plus has been trending substantially upwards over the last three years in terms of connected lock purchase? Or that almost half (46.5%) of connected lock purchases were made by respondents who said they are working full-time? Or that almost half of the connected lock purchases in the four quarters ending in March 2021 were made in the South?

The answer, naturally, is yes. Meaning that if you are working with a customer who is over 65, you are interacting with a customer from a group that is growing more and more likely to buy a connected lock each year. Armed with this tidbit, a dealer would think twice before abandoning a buyer who is in their ‘golden years.” 

The critical question is what do you do with the information once you get it? In our over 65+ example, it would be rude to ask your customer their age. And it would be uncomfortable asking your customer their income level, and that discomfort would noticeably increase if you were to inquire about their education level. 

What it comes down to is this: The questions posed earlier about children, pets, and deliveries are questions a potential customer would expect to hear. Questions about their financial or educational status, not so much. Even if a question isn’t rude or uncomfortable, it might just be puzzling to the customer to ask them how long they’ve been at their current address.

The truth is, there is a way to get this information. It requires a bit more subtlety and tact, but a good salesperson can gain this insight while keeping the customer relationship intact. How? Get them talking — about everything. Their lives. Their children. Their grandchildren. Their alma maters. Often, in a friendly conversation, people will simply offer this information. But you, as a dealer, have to listen for the information — or the clues that will lead you to it.

Maybe you mention a funny incident you remember from college. In response, your customer may relate a similar story, and now you know they have attained some level of higher education. Or perhaps you talk about your own home. You might talk about something you remember from the day you moved in. If your customer has been in their house for a substantial amount of time, they may retort that they can’t remember any stories because they moved in so long ago. With some information lodged in your head about time spent at current address, you can at least rule out the “less than one year” and “1-3 years categories.” 

None of this is an exact science. But the bottom line is, getting a better bead on your customer and their propensity to buy boils down to two factors:

  •  Having data at your disposal through whatever source you can find that provides useful demographic insights. 
  • Using your sales skills and ability to relate interpersonally to your customers to get the information that matches those insights, whether directly or indirectly. 

Selling a product like connected locks naturally requires well-honed sales skills. But it also dictates that you put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and do some drilling down to generate clues to what your customer is thinking, as well as what characteristics they possess that might be more likely to lead you to a sale.