Episode 6: How to Do a Site Walk
Welcome to Privacy Matters with Speech Privacy Systems. I’m your host Andy Vawter.
This is our sixth episode and today I have Diane Doll Stephens with us. She is our outside salesperson for the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Diane, thanks for being here. (Dianne: Thanks for having me.) So we’re really excited to have you here today. So you know we don’t talk a lot about you. And then also the thing that I think is most valuable to share with our partners is how to do a site visit. Now that may not be the most exciting thing for everybody. In fact, I think a lot of our partners are potentially scared about maybe what questions are going to be asked. What are they be looking for? Things like that and you went through all of that when you first started working with us so we’re going to talk through the kind of best practices some of the things you learned. How to just really pull the right information when you walk a site and then make sure that the products and services were putting together designing and selling are going to be the right fit. So that’s really we’re going to cover today. I’m really excited to have you here. So before we talk about that let’s talk a little bit about you.
So you come from the AV industry and so you’ve got some experience there. So tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to Speech Privacy.
Yeah absolutely. So thanks for having me. So been in sales roughly about 20 years so hard to believe. (Andy: Never would’ve guessed that they would be there. You look so young.) Thank you so much. For those that are listening it’s just one little stripe but not all purple or not all purple for sticking a little test. (Andy: There you go.) People remember me. (Andy: I love it.) Thank you. So yeah. So the AV world has really brought me through those 20 years I’ve learned a ton over the years and I have a lot of AV mentors out there that have taught me so much. (Andy: And you work for some of the largest AV integrators in the country right.) Yes. So the very largest. Absolutely. Yeah. (Andy: You’ve got a lot of experience there and then you through a referral heard about Speech Privacy, correct?) So yes, I didn’t know about Speech Privacy at all and yeah. A good friend of mine had mentioned you guys to me and so what a blessing to be able to come over and interview and get to work with you guys. I mean it’s truly a blessing.
So we love having you and obviously you’re hard workers. That always helps. So you know you came over and pretty much the first thing we did with you while you’re from the AV world you’ve worked at all these large companies. We’ve done some work with them but obviously you didn’t know who we were so that meant others didn’t. So it’s right. The first couple of months you were here was really go back out to all the people you know. Yeah and tell them where you’re working and you know, introduce Speech Privacy to them. So you did that and then you started to get you to know more integrated into all of our different partners that we have and much more experienced. What do you think was really your recipe for success as you started to kind of get hit your stride and really understand how best you could fit in.
Yeah absolutely amazing. And the amazing team, the amazing support and you are a huge support to me helping to teach me. (Andy: What we were doing a lot of site visits to early on.) Absolutely. I worked with Jeff Adams. He is incredible. I’m so thankful that he’s on my team as well.
Jeff is a key account manager you work with. We actually had him a couple of weeks ago do an episode. So he really helped I’m sure and he was one of the most experienced account managers that we had here. So what was it like working with him?
He’s amazing. He is a hard worker. He is driven. I feel like we really work well together so we matched well together and we can bounce ideas off of each other and you know we kind of like split things up and we just get the job done together.
Yes. Good. So I’m sure that really helped you kind of get rolling and start having success. So how would you describe yourself to everybody listening?
I would say that I am a bubbly person and a positive person. I am a competitive person and Andy knows that. Yes. Also, I love to be around people. (Andy: So you were really sad when you lost fantasy football.) I was sad but yet I won so I won the week.
We posted a little video a few months ago. So what we did this year instead of exchanging money or anything like that we basically bet for the loser of the office-wide Fantasy Football League would have to have the company all over the rest of the people that were in the pool, pick a song that they had to come one Monday morning and just karaoke and basically sing it karaoke-style. So Diane lost miraculously because I was in the last place but then she just took a nosedive right at the end of the season is phenomenal. I love that. But the fact that she lost instead of all the rest of us really she ended up winning because she showed up with a bunch of props a bunch of hats and things that we all had to wear and she forced literally the owner of the company and everybody else to start dancing and singing the song. (Dianne: Taking selfies.) Yes. So I guarantee you had I lost it wouldn’t have gone down that way at the end. So yes bubbly is probably the right word for your personality because you have even been here that long and you are already forcing all of us to dance and take selfies. So that’s always fun. And we’ve done like Charlie Cook and you force us to decorate for Christmas and probably every other holiday so yeah let’s cheer her ability to make sure everything is festive and fun is unmatched so far. So I would describe it to you everywhere.
So what do you want our reps and dealers to know about you and I guess that’s kind of a two-part question because of course, you work specifically here in Dallas. So you want the people in Dallas and Fort Worth to know about you. But then also you could probably share in general what do you want everybody out there to know about us as a company. Might be the same, they might be different answers.
Absolutely, so I would say, especially for those that are local here in the DFW area that I’m available I’m here for you. I’m here to help make you successful. I’m available to go out on demos, I can help you go walk that site survey and you know help you not to be afraid. And so just not just know that you’re supported you don’t have to go in alone you don’t have to be afraid. So that would be for the locals. For the people that are listening that are learning about speech privacy or maybe you’re just not in this area that your key account manager is here for you too. So regardless if they can’t go out on that site survey they can do a webinar they can do a call with you and your customer. So we’re available regardless. I mean each and every one of us is here for you.
Perfect. And so you know because one of the things you’re really good at is doing a site walk. You’re good at right. You would say I’m you’re learning and you’re getting better but you’ve really gotten good early on. I think it was probably a point where you’re a little bit intimidated by what. What were they gonna ask you, what if you don’t know all the answers so what I’d like to do now is really let’s break down how you started with not knowing necessarily all the things you needed to know and how you got to where you are to where you have a better plan going into a site visit you have questions you want to ask and how do we share that with everybody out there because you know you’re here for everybody in Dallas but all of our reps out there and all of our dealer partners that are around the country oftentimes have to go on a site alone. And it’s you know it’s not their area of expertise. So, well we want to do is help give them as many tools as we can to make this much easier so you know tell us what are some of the things you’re looking for when you do a site walk with a with an end-user or at a customer site.
Sure absolutely. So, there’s a couple of ways that you can go about it. So the first way, sometimes a customer will already know what they’re looking for. Maybe they’ve Googled or maybe they have you know something else in mind. So we can go in and we can verify what they’re asking for. So I always like to ask a lot of questions. Questions are always good. But another thing that comes to mind is ABC. So there’s a simple step called ABC of acoustics so A is absorb. So do they have echo problems then they need to absorb them. So asking, do you have echo problems or you know asking some kind of a pain point regarding that. If I walk in and there’s a huge 25-foot ceiling I know they’re going to have that go problem. Most likely so that going to kind of give me a red flag for them regarding echo. B would be for blocking so if we are working with a partner that is bringing in furniture sometimes they can help with the furniture. That’s not something that we’re going to cover we’re going to only talk about A and C square and talk about A for absorb or C for cover. So if they say to me something like I can hear the person next to me talking or were there in a big open call center or floor plan that’s open. Then by asking those questions I’m I would know that sound masking might be something that they’re looking for. So there are some things that come to mind first.
So really ABC is kind of what’s in your mind when you’re walking inside because if a customer says you know, hey we want to do a sound masking project and they bring you on-site, of course, you’re looking for what’s it going to take to the sound masking project cause that’s what they asked you about. At the same time, you’re also got your eye open for are their problems with where they need absorption or are their problems where maybe we’re sound just carry wide open and need some blocking on top of the coverage that they’ve already asked for. Is that what you’re saying? Yes. So that’s a really easy formula for most of our partners to understand we have a lot of documents that show A, B and C and kind of give you a cheat sheet to remember what they are. So that’s a really good thought.
What about the people and this might be the same answer but the people that don’t know what they want and they just say we just want you to come out here and tell us.
Yeah. If they say we know that we have some issues with sound or issues of privacy then that’s great. We’ll come out there and we’ll take a look. Basically, what we do is we walk the space and it’s great. If they have a floor plan that we can look at in advance or even if we get to the site if not that’s totally ok. I actually take a lot of photos and video just have those for my memory and to bring them back to the team in case we need to reference them.
So let me ask you this. Yeah, it’s probably good for all of our partners out there. Do you always know what solution you’re gonna go with when you walk a site or do you reserve that for later to kind of talk with Jeff about it?
So that’s a good question. Thank you for asking that. I would say, the more I go out to a site the more comfortable that I feel early on I wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing exactly. I’m starting to feel more comfortable where I could potentially recommend something but I’m not sure I would recommend it to them until we come back and talk about it. So it could go either way. It depends.
That’s good. I like the way you answer that though because you know if we’ve got people listening who have never done a site walk for acoustic panels or never walk to site for sound masking you know the answer there is you can just go and take pictures and video, take measurements, ask questions about what their problems are and take notes on that and then call your key account manager and they can help make recommendations for the solutions to put in that space. So you don’t have to walk the site and then know exactly what we’re going to do to treat it you just have to get information. Yes. I mean the more you do it you get more comfortable. You know you’ve already helped a similar space it’s very similar to that and you can start talking you know actually this company over here we helped in a very similar way that’s where you get more and more comfortable. So for those partners out there that are just getting going with us, I think that’s good for them to hear is that they don’t have to have all the answers up front. That’s really it’s just asking the questions upfront. That’s right. Excellent. So sometimes you’re walking the site with an end user sometimes you’re walking in with a general contractor. Yes.
How are those conversations different? How are those people different?
Yes. So I would say a general contractor, they’re there to business less emotional. Just want the product, I want the price. Let’s get it done. What’s the schedule. Yes, very task-oriented. (Andy: You get that thing done.) That’s right. Check, check. The end-user you can have a lot more fun with us because they’re really the ones that care about the colors and the design and the look and feel and what’s going to make people happy. General contractors maybe don’t care as much but you can have a lot more fun with an end-user.
Sure. So if you know obviously if you had your pick you want the people that are fun and exciting. (Dianne: That is true.) But that’s not always the case because a lot of times we are dealing with those contractors and so we as a company always try and model our service offering to fit those contractors but also our products to fit the end-user. So you know I think that’s where we try and put those two together is we can hit tight timelines, we can hit a budget number we can make things easy for a GC but also we get creative and fun and do all sorts of stuff with the end-user and create some emotional connection to our products and services.
So what is one of the typical questions you ask when you walk onto a job site?
Let’s see. (Andy: Other than your beautiful sparkly tone.) Yes yes yes. I would say, one of the questions that I get asked most is, will this work? How do I know that this is gonna work? (Andy: For any product.) Well (Andy: Both products.) It could be both. Yeah. I would say both.
Honestly, that’s a big challenge we have always had is you know we sell solutions that you know with sound masking our invisible background sounds really effective. But you have to demo it in the exact perfect scenario really to show somebody how it works. So you can talk about all day long and you know that’s tough. And then the acoustic panels are colorful and cool but demoing them you have to have a certain amount of material in a space so it can be challenging there too. So yeah I think that is probably one of our biggest challenges. So how do you answer that not that there’s a perfect answer to it?
Sure. Yeah. Well, I know with sound masking we can do demos. So personally I have a demo kit. I can go on-site and I’ve done demos where I’m in an office and we close the door and they go outside or they go next door to the office next door. And so we’ve done demos like that. We bring people to our office here locally to do demos. And so I know that that’s really helped overcome will it work especially when we turned it off. Yeah very silent.
So we know that demo really really works. How about acoustic panels? What acoustic band go-to for that?
Yeah, I would say that one of the things is our data and our testing that we’ve done that has definitely made a difference. For me personally to understand the actual math and the data to know that you know if we do a double-thick layer with that stands off against the wall that we’re gonna have the best NRC rating. So I know that’s kind of techie and you know a little crazy but that definitely helps start in the customer.
Absolutely. So you’ve got the mouth to show. Yes. And then we’re constantly trying to figure out ways to demonstrate that this stuff works. So I know, I mean just we did our conference recently and everybody internally just couldn’t believe the difference when you walked in. How much softer the room was better. You want to hear everything. And so we filmed a little video of that as well before and after I actually posted on LinkedIn recently. So we’re gonna make that video public for folks because I made one of the only ways that we can show how this stuff works are the demo the audio in space. And then probably testimonials of third party customers really is the best way to sell a show. (Dianne: And those are growing more and more.) Exactly. Yeah. Well great.
What was probably the best technique you learned early on to help you be more confident on a site walk? Because I know when you first I went on a lot of site visits with you but then at some point I was busy or something and you’re even in a couple of weeks. You got this. So once you started having to go out on your own what was or maybe a technique or two that you learned that helped give you confidence.
I would say, ask a lot of questions. I’m not the type of person where I’m not going to make up an answer. So if I don’t know an answer I will write that down and get back to them with an answer. So that brings me to the team that circles back around to the stability of our team and just working with them so leaning on them.
Yes. So you are often texting or calling Jeff while you’re on site. Here’s the situation, what do you recommend? What should we do? I remember I’ve gotten a few of those from you but that’s great. I mean we’re really here for you in that capacity but you probably want to share that. Well, that’s the way we are with all of our partners. We want that type of interaction when they’re out on site you know and that kind of takes me to my next question.
How does Speech Privacy help you look good when you’re out there. You know what do we do to make sure you’re set up and knowledgeable and look and looking your best.
Yeah. Just the leveraging for success.
So you know as we share with partners around the country what we want them to pull out of this is that you know you have a key account manager or an account manager that you work with who’s really knowledgeable. I mean we do a lot of training. I mean they all go to sales training every week and that’s sales training is not how to pitch. It’s how to ask questions it’s how to dig and make sure that you leave no stone unturned to make sure you’ve really gotten down to what the real problem is that way we’re not offering solutions that don’t fit because then you have unhappy customers, that’s when unhappy partners and everything and so that’s the sales training. So our people are constantly sharpening their skills there and then we do a lot of training on acoustics. And like you mentioned the NRC rating and all that. So all of our people have extensive training on how best to treat a room and what to do and how to do it. They’re not designers but they do understand the acoustic side. And so you know if if you’re a dealer or a rep and you’ve got to do a site visit you’ve got to meet with the client. Diane is here in Dallas and Fort Worth to help and then your key account manager. Honestly and that’s what you’re saying is was what made you successful was leaning on your key account managers. So all of our reps and dealers have someone like that here Speech Privacy.
Is there any other advice that you would give our dealers and reps we’ve kind of hit that whole advice of call us, use us. Yeah. You know is there anything else that you would add out there.
Yeah, I would definitely say don’t be afraid to call us. Don’t be afraid to really kind of take this hidden gem bull by the horns and you know really learn a little bit for yourself. It’s amazing that within the time that I spent in the AV realm. I really didn’t know about Speech Privacy. I barely knew a little bit about what sound masking was hadn’t really no experience with acoustics but it’s really not as complicated as you know an outsider might think. So I would just say it’s easy it’s simple. We’re here for you.
Well, this is such an interesting story because you know we are on our side of it or do we just assume that everybody kind of knows and because you meet people at shows and you talk to people and they say yeah I mean I know about sound masking or I know. Yet when it comes down to it most people have a basic understanding but not enough to go walk a site with a customer and actually ask good questions and know what’s going to you know the right solution is. So you’re right I think a lot of people we would think maybe should know but don’t. And so you’re basically the suggestion you’re making is it’s not that complicated and we make it easy so make sure that you use us and talk with us, connect with us. I mean look you’re nine months in and now you’re a complete expert. (Dianne: There you go.) I always tell new employees this is something I tell everybody that we bring in and once you’re through our training you’ve got a month in. I’m always focusing on the fact that you’re now in the 1 percent of the world that understands this. I know it’s not overly complicated it’s just a lot of people don’t get it. They don’t they don’t know. Yeah. That’s usually a good boost for our employees. Like I know you’re new I know you’re used to learning but you’re now smarter when it comes to this topic. You’re smarter than a lot of people out there because you just have the resources here and so. But we want to share those resources we want to give them out and it’s not just crazy scary about it. We want to give it out to everybody. That’s really the advice that we have for everybody if you got to do a walkthrough, call us, let us help you. Well, we’ll give you everything you need. We’ll make you feel comfortable or guys will be you know and gals will be waiting with a cell phone to jump on. You know I’ve had people Facetime me and walk through the site while I’m on the other end you know getting to see stuff and it’s just the more curious, the more open people are to going out there and doing it just the more success we seem to have.
Absolutely. And just a comment on that with so many open floors plans everywhere you go and it’s not ending. I talked to architects and designers about this all the time is an open floor plan going to remain. Oh, it is. So it’s incredible, how much and how much more you know we’ll get to talk to people because of that.
Absolutely. Yeah. So let’s swing back to the personal side and finish this thing up. I always ask these two questions, everybody. What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not Speech Privacy?
Yeah well, I have a daughter who’s about to be eleven this week so I spent a lot of time with her. So I’d like to spend time with my family and friends and I like to travel. So traveling is definitely a love. I also like to do some crafting so I have a vinyl machine. Yes. So I make T-shirts for fun. Perfect club. Yes, silhouette. (Andy: Yes silhouette, there we go.) Yes. I like to do that for fun so that’s kind of my creative outlet.
So then if you had all the money in the world, what would you do?
Well, that is a good question because I really had to think about that one. I love the beach so if I have a choice to go on vacation it’s usually the beach. You know I have to have a beach place I’m not sure where that would be summer on a beautiful island with turquoise water would continue travelling to some places that I haven’t been before. And then I thought that I really need to do something good in the world so I would like to start a charity. I can’t say what kind of a charity that would be but I definitely would like to start a charity. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Florida and so marine life is something that’s a love of mine and because of the recent red tide that’s something that you know maybe could be part of my charity and learning more.
You’re the philanthropic type, you want to give back.
Yeah. Some of each. Yeah. I need some back. (Andy: But you still want that beach house. Yeah, I get it. Yeah.) Oh, and I love people so they can all come over. (Andy: The best party.) Yeah everybody’s like come on.
Well I would love to have it here today and you know if you’re in Dallas Fort Worth, reach out Diane is wonderful to work with. She is, therefore, you should run around anywhere you guys need her to go to make you guys successful. And you know she’s got she’s backed up by Jeff. So Jeff is one of our best so you got a really good team there. And if you’re doing a site walk and you’ve got an opportunity with a customer and you just not feeling like you have all the information reach out well be happy to be there for you virtually, give you all the tools we can. You know we do travel so I mean there are opportunities where we can physically be there with you as well. But you know our goal is to really train people up and get them where they’re going. So once again if you have not subscribed to this podcast please do or we’re doing it every week or two and you know wouldn’t want you to miss anything.
And we’re going to start adding guests that are outside of Speech Privacy here very soon we’re lining some of those things up. So going to have a lot of industry insights people from design firms contracting companies dealerships just anybody that we can find that will help shed some light on this industry and what we’re all trying to do take care of customers with their office space. So thanks again for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.