The IT Chronicles Part I – Talk the Talk

“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

You don’t have to have a “cool hand” to hypothesize that there is a disconnect that sometimes happens when AV firms interface with IT Directors.

I was given 2 weeks of “training” when I joined the IBM sales team, 1.9 weeks of which was learning how to use the inventory and shipping system.   The other hour was an overview of how computers work.  Now keep in mind, I had been going to college studying  Zoology.

The only computer experience I had was accidentally dumping the BIOS on my first PC because I thought you had to do that to restore the old settings. . .oops, that PC never worked again (worked being a loose term for what an 88MHZ 386 PC could do, even with the Turbo button depressed).

So I had an hour of RAM vs Hard Disk class and then was sent off to call IT directors at Akamai and Countrywide, which were two accounts in my book at the time.  I learned real quickly my first piece of advice to AV firms:

“You can’t fool an IT director.”

If you don’t have a background in IT don’t be discouraged.  It took you a little time to learn about HDMI, RGBHV, Scaling, Switching, and VTC bandwidth requirements, so this will take a little investment in time as well.  However it is IMPERATIVE that it is made.

10 years ago I used a site called “Whatis.com” to learn every term someone said to me that I didn’t know.  It took a month or two, but after that I had no problem getting to my $250,000 per month quota.  One of the senior field reps actually told my manager that if he had “10 Mark Coxons. . .Dell and HP would be toast in a year.”

For anyone who knows me personally, that is saying a lot, because we all know I’m just not that good.

The point is, that you can take the clueless and build a shining future if you put in the effort.  Today we have sites like Wikipedia for self study and it also wouldn’t hurt to go get a CCNA certification, as it will get you pointed in the right direction and lend some credibility to your firm.

If you think an IT director is going to let you install a system on his network without knowing about VLANs, QOS, Harmonic Mitigating Transformers, or any other of the crucial issues you two will ultimately end up navigating together, you are dead wrong.

These folks spent time and money on an education and have payed their dues as IT assistants showing people how to find the Excel file they just saved and  create a mail merge for their address labels. . .for the 3rd time.   They expect you to know your business, and if your system connects to their network, they expect you to know the ins and outs of mitigating any issues.  They can smell indecision like dogs and bees smell fear, and they will choose a vendor who has put in the time and can speak their language.

I read an article in Commercial Integrator by Tom LeBlanc where he interviewed Mr. Thomas at AVI-SPL (the largest AV firm in the country with over $425 million in annual sales).  It is no surprise that Mr. Thomas sends specialists in to talk to IT managers.  It speaks to its importance.  The 20% of the IT/AV installs that are being done by integrators, I can guarantee are being done by firms who know how to talk the talk.

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