Business warms up

Dakota Security chief encourages social media use to take advantage of new business opportunities
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.—Business is looking up in 2011, but it’s not business as usual, says Dakota Security president Eric Yunag.

Yunag said he’s seeing more business opportunities in the first quarter of 2011 than he’s seen in the past three to five years, but it’s not coming from the same old places.

“We’ve had a great start to the year, with higher activity levels across all the geographies, vertical markets and customer demographics,” he said.

A systems integrator with 100 employees, Dakota Security is based here and has offices in Des Moines, Iowa; Omaha, Neb.; Phoenix; Minneapolis; Chicago and New York.

Dakota Security offers traditional and electronic security. “It’s one thing that makes us unique:  We do a significant amount of work with traditional locksmithing, safes and vaults in addition to access control, alarms and video.”

Yunag said current business opportunities are not limited to the traditional verticals where the company has previously specialized. “We’ve never been big into manufacturing,” he said, as an example. “But we’ve seen an increase in competitive bidding with manufacturing customers in the last three months.”

In recent years, “the increased commoditization of products we sell makes it incumbent on us to demonstrate our value beyond the product lines we sell,” he said. “The name of a brand is much less important than developing a solution and demonstrating real security expertise.”

Yunag said he’s been working with his sales staff to “change the way we sell [moving away from a products focus] and how we approach targets and prospects ... I challenge our sales people to establish relationships across verticals and we’re working now on referral networks,” he said.

His staff has a visible and active presence on the LinkedIn social media site. It’s an initiative Yunag himself has taken the lead on at Dakota. Dakota staff’s LinkedIn activities also link back to the Dakota Security web site. “As opposed to the traditional cold call where you contact hundreds of people, with social media, you have the ability to determine who’s related and connected, and that can take the cold nature out of that contact.”

Yunag can point to several specific examples of how social media contacts have directly, or indirectly gained his company business, and he expects that trend to continue. “While [social media] hasn’t had a life-altering affect on our business yet, I think it has the potential to do that in coming years.”