President of RollKall, the only complete off-duty management platform that works with law enforcement agencies, officers, and businesses.
When you’re in the business of designing and creating new technologies, the benefits of adding tech to your processes can seem obvious. So much so that adding new tools to your toolbox isn’t even something worth discussing. But that’s not the case in every industry. There are industries where introducing new tools and solutions does require a discussion, and automating even the most mundane processes requires multiple conversations.
Our company works with the law enforcement industry, and calling the people inside of it tech reluctant is a little unfair. The nature of the job requires tools and technology that are completely dependable. Officers don’t want to get into a situation where they need their technologies to work and then have questions on whether it will or not.
I get it. I spent the early portion of my career in the military. When you deploy, you don’t want to be testing a new gun that’s never been fired or a new radio that’s never been used. That’s not the case in every industry. Often, people rush to have the newest, the latest and the coolest. But members of the military and those who serve in law enforcement want proven technologies. It’s easily understandable, but it can also make selling new technologies into these markets difficult.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here’s how we approach it.
Build A Market-Appropriate Product
For these markets, you have to recognize the users aren’t enamored with novelty and cutting-edge innovation. They don’t want technology for the sake of technology. They are more interested in having a problem solved for them, so you have to create a product that identifies a place of friction in their day-to-day lives and design a solution that directly addresses it.
How do you find those places of friction? Ask questions. What’s the core problem this user is struggling with? Where and why are they feeling pain? What are the tasks that are difficult for them to complete? What frustrates them? Start with the answers to those questions, then define and design a solution that directly addresses those issues.
Find The Early Adopters
While an industry may generally be tech reluctant, there are still individuals inside that industry who aren’t. They are on the edge of the adoption spectrum. They are doing things a bit differently or innovatively. Find those people.
For us, that meant identifying use cases that were more entrepreneurial in nature and the individuals who were driving them. Our platform helps connect police officers with the businesses and organizations looking to hire them for off-duty work.
In many police departments, there are officers who, in addition to their normal policing duties, have also taken on the role of a coordinator. They are handling the connection of these officers with off-duty work. They are doing this because many of them are entrepreneurial thinkers. They see this situation and say, “Oh, there’s a problem here. All these businesses need professional onsite security. No one’s meeting that need. I’m good at it, but I can’t do it all. I could get other people to do it with me.” Those people are innovators. They are entrepreneurs. They are creative. They are receptive to new things, and they have unique pain.
Every industry has this kind of person—the one who looks at problems and enjoys the challenge of solving them. Find them in the industry you’re targeting because breaking through to this audience is critical. Once you are able to do that, they will be your entry into a larger audience.
Turn Those Early Adopters Into Ongoing Advocates
You can’t build a business on early adopters, but you can build one with them. By providing those early adopters with help, support and value, you will create brand champions.
The unique thing about these types of markets is that there is a level of loyalty that’s not found everywhere. For the early adopters in these spaces, they will see this advocacy for you as reciprocity for all you’ve done for them. The relationship stops being transactional and becomes emotional.
For us, removing cumbersome, time-consuming tasks from law enforcement coordinators was paramount to making it easy for them to provide the professional security services their communities want and need. We empower them so they can focus on extra-duty detail that allows them to increase their income. We take what was a side business and can help them turn it into the equivalent of full-time income for many of them.
When that level of service can be provided to those early adopters, they will carry you deeper into their own organizations and introduce you to others.
Selling technology to a technology-reluctant market can feel resource-intensive for adoption that takes more time to reach the tipping point. However, if you can create a solution that focuses on solving specific industry problems and reducing friction, you will earn the loyalty of the early adopters. Their influence can help build adoption and usage of the solution and in the long run, your business.