5 Best Pre-Sales Practices in AV Projects for the Educational Market
In recent months, the topic of education has been more present than ever in the media, family gatherings, and conversations with friends. The pandemic radically changed the way millions of students worldwide take lessons, and educational institutions found it necessary to make multiple adjustments on the fly to continue with school programs.
From the AV industry, we can help the education sector to overcome these new challenges, whether it is by designing flexible learning environments, with the integration of AV devices for hybrid classrooms, or the renewal of existing systems. And without a doubt, the best way to approach a new project in this market is through good practices from the pre-sale stage.
In one of our recent AVIXA Webinars, the experienced Felipe Hoyuela, Operations Manager, and Ricardo Campos, Deputy Manager of Project Development, from the AV company Videocorp, shared their expertise and advice on best practices to start a project on the right track.
1. Listen to the Client
The first step is to start the relationship by listening to the client and get in line with their expectations. Helping them differentiate their wishes from actual needs is critical to define the scope and limitations of the project, in addition to adjusting to a specific budget.
It is essential to identify if the client has a specialist or someone with experience in AV technology since their involvement will make the initial process easier. Hoyuela and Campos warn that, unlike universities, 12K schools usually don't have a person responsible for the AV area, so the integrator must assume the consultant's role.
2. Gather Information
Information gathering is the second good practice to consider during the pre-sale. For example, the integrator must avoid the mistake of assuming that once he knows the conditions of a classroom, all the other classrooms on the campus are just the same.
This is best be done in person, visiting the site to take the possibility of capturing all the information. Have it written down, with images and in a well-designed form that includes particular elements of each space, from the geographic location to the dimensions, available technology, pipelines for cabling, USB protocol used, Ethernet, and electrical outlets, among other aspects.
A thorough information collection will help prepare a reasonable budget and evaluate the possibility of reusing, refurbishing, or adapting present equipment; not all installations require absolutely every piece of gear to be brand new.
Sometimes, when participating in competitive bidding, it is impossible to personally visit the school's facilities, so it is essential to request all the blueprints and inventory lists available and a liability release letter if the information received does not match reality.
3. AV Resources are Important
The third aspect of the pre-sale process is to consider the importance of AV resources. Felipe Hoyuela recommends defining the audio needs (loudspeakers, microphones, processing, acoustic materials) before anything else, "if a hybrid classroom doesn't have clear, intelligible audio and the right coverage, then the learning process simply isn't possible," he states.
The expert points out that, once the audio solution is integrated, the video offers a more significant margin for maneuver since not all spaces require 4K UHD cameras or displays, so a standard quality could satisfy the needs and optimize the budget.
Hoyuela suggests paying close attention to the election, dimensions, and position of the projection screens and the video projectors. A faulty installation will negatively impact the work, and any change will require additional costs and others many other resources.
4. Understand Where and How Classes are Held
Understanding how classes are delivered in each classroom or auditorium is the fourth aspect of an excellent pre-sale process. Ricardo Campos highlights the importance of visiting each space dedicated to learning to understand the teaching style, the lessons' duration, the AV devices used to share content (video, audio, presentations), and grasp the importance of using the blackboard.
All of this information will be very valuable to define the AV solutions for each space. For example, a Mathematics classroom, in which the blackboard has a leading role, requires a system to digitize the content that the teacher shares on the blackboard. On the other hand, an auditorium, more focused on the speaker's presentation, will need flat screens, projectors, cameras, automation systems, and AV control to retain a larger audience's attention.
5. Consider Scalability
The integrator should provide an overview of the time frame for the technology change from a project. If the system's administration can be automated as part of a future stage or if it is possible to monitor its process remotely through the web.
With this information, the client gets a more favorable position, as they will have greater certainty of the project and more arguments to decide on their investment. But it also opens the door for more business opportunities for the integrator. For example, if the system is automated and operates over a network, the integrator will have the chance of offering software update services, remote system management, or preventive maintenance.
Finally, our friends invite you to make a recount of the most common mistakes made during the pre-sale process. Each integrator knows where they've failed before, so it would be fundamental that the information gathering document includes the questions or requests for the necessary data to not fall back into expensive mistakes.