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70. What do propane tanks, cows, and air quality sensors have in common? With Thomas Hamilton

May 24, 2023

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Listen in as we talk with Telarus Partner Thomas Hamilton of HamBTC about propane tanks, connected cows, air quality sensors, and more. Thomas talks about how he’s shifted his focus to helping customers with their Mobility and IoT strategy. You’ll hear about how he got his start door knocking in the Bronx to owning his own successful company brokering different technology solutions, and some things that he’s learned along the way to polish his skills!

Josh Lupresto (00:01):
Welcome to the podcast that is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech.

Josh Lupresto (00:15):
Hey everybody, welcome back. Today we are wrapping up the topic, interesting topic titled, what Do Propane Tanks, cows and Air Quality Sensors Have in Common? I just wanted to make this title as crazy as I possibly could for people to go, what in the world is that? I have to watch it. And what we got on with us, we got on with us the wonderful Thomas Hamilton of HamBTC to help us wrap up this one. Thomas, thanks for coming on, man.

Thomas Hamilton (00:41):
I truly appreciate you inviting me on. It’s, it’s a honor and I feel like a blessing to be here.

Josh Lupresto (00:46):
Oh, dang. Oh, hi. Geez. I can’t let you down at this point. . All right, man. Let’s, let’s jump in here. You know, before we get started, we just talk about HamBTC. Let’s, let’s kick back to your background. I, I love asking people this because some people come from totally polar different spaces. Some people have always been in tech. I just love hearing everybody’s path. So tell us about, how did you get here?

Thomas Hamilton (01:11):
I got to technology sales. So about 17 years ago I was looking for a new path something similar to sales. And I, funny enough, I, I answered a Craigslist ad looking for door to sell door salespeople, and it turned out to be a company that was had partnered with Verizon for a feed on the street program, b2b doing pot, selling pots, fs, dsl, doing the winbacks, things of that nature. And that’s where I got my start knocking doors in, in, in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens in the Bronx going door to door. And, and I, that’s always been where I’ve been accustomed. I’m, I’m a really good face-to-face person, so I, I just took off with it. And then somebody told me about the partner program, and when it was time, when it felt like it was time to jump ship, when it only took a summer to figure it was time to jump ship, I, I entered the partner program. I started interviewing some tsb and I found one that would worked for me. And I was with them for many years before I, I was again honored to find Talos.

Josh Lupresto (02:21):
Love it. All right. I want you to take me back fellow door to door, man. I, I, I feel like you learn if you do that one, you can do anything in life, but two, you learn so much. If you look back to knocking doors, right? Just out there in, in what’s gotta be one of the toughest areas, what is the biggest thing, whether it be personal, professional, what did you learn, if you look back on that, that maybe you leveraged now or just kind of helped you along the way?

Thomas Hamilton (02:50):
I think, as you said, you know, door to door for a lot of people is very tough and very scary. Perseverance ingenuity figuring out where to be where to make your move. Knocking doors in Manhattan. , you gotta avoid security guards. You gotta know what door, what, what floors you can get to. If you got an appointment on the first floor, you make sure you get to the second floor. If you’re on the 44th, make sure you do the 45th and the 43rd. Cuz you, now you got access. So all those type of things. And also being, you know, new Yorkers are notorious for being rude and, and not being friendly and talking. So you learn to, to charm the, the gatekeeper. You learn to charm the person who actually comes and talks to you. And you, you, you improve your pitch at more than anything.

Thomas Hamilton (03:45):
And then you get through the nose, you get through the nose to find the yeses. So when I took my, my door knocking skills on the road from New York City and moved it to Charlotte, North Carolina in the Carolina area, I, oh my God, these people down here are so nice. This is a cakewalk . I was like, hold on, I’m, I’m going from, you know, outta 10 people, four or five of them being rude to one or two. I’m like, everybody’s so nice. And I’m like, I’m so sorry to disturb you. No, no, it’s not a disturbance. I’m like, really? I just came here outta nowhere and I’m not a disturbance. Okay, thank you. And who, who, who do I need to speak with? Oh, such and such. You want his email? You want his phone number?

Josh Lupresto (04:24):
Oh, man, that’s beautiful. . Oh, that’s, that’s gold right there.

Thomas Hamilton (04:31):
But I, I think the greatest thing about door knocking I, I’ll I’ll say this is from my standpoint is I can read you, I don’t have to try and read you through a phone call. I can see your face. Yeah, I can see your interests. Oh, your kid’s kid plays little league. Mine, mine too. You know, oh, you, you like football. I, I, me too. You know, and I got, I can do all that now. That’s the first thing I do when I step into somebody’s office is I’m scanning everything I can possibly use to, to make a connection.

Josh Lupresto (04:59):
Beautiful. That’s gold right there. Okay. tell us about who is Ham, B t C? Where did the business start? Just tell us about the business.

Thomas Hamilton (05:09):
HamBTC, Hamilton Business Technology Consulting. I started HamBTC obviously which just took my experience and wanted to make it a, a, a nice legal company with my dad’s name, last name on it to make him proud. And I’m proud of, I’m proud of as well. I am a co consultant, 100%. That’s what I do. I work with customers from smb up to enterprise. And that comes from, some of that comes from door knocking. I’ve gotten some medium, nice, medium sized customers, or bending some actually enterprise opportunities because I spoke to the low man on the pole and I found my way up. And so I started out with connectivity voice services. I’m now working in doing more cybersecurity opportunities looking and working in more IoT opportunities as well. And now it’s just kind of a, I I’m, I’m, I’ve attuned my ear to whatever problem or solutions that my problems my customers are having and finding solutions for that.

Thomas Hamilton (06:19):
So that, that just take means, I gotta listen to folks like you constantly to find out what, what those new solutions are. Because you know what the worst feeling in the world is, is two or three months later and you’re talking to your customer, just having a casual conversation. And he says, oh yeah, I just implemented this. Oh yeah, they work with me. Oh, I just implemented that. Oh yeah, I could have helped with that. Oh, I’m sorry. I would’ve come to you Thomas. I didn’t know. Oh, well I didn’t know either. So it’s, you know, so it’s said, staying on top of everything. Yeah. And let my customers know that, hey, if you have a a business technology issue, ask me first. And, and I have customers that will do that. Hey, Thomas, do you do this? Or can you help with that? And that is, that is our business.

Josh Lupresto (07:04):
So, so, you know, as a partner of Telarus, what we’re talking about the broader mobility and IoT now, but you know, where, with where you started historically, how do you look at something like this, this broader area of mobility and IoT?

Thomas Hamilton (07:19):
I see it as an opportunity opportunity for discussion and conversation. I see that it, and just learning more and more about IoT, it transposes so many different industries. There’s, there’s more than one, two or three opp different kinds of opportunities out there. I don’t know if you want me to go into them, but, but that’s, that’s what I got from got from listening. They’re always new IoT, solutions out there for problems that folks didn’t know they had, or problems that they wish they could resolve.

Josh Lupresto (07:55):
Yeah. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll make ’em keep listening and, and we’ll get to the we’ll get to the example here in a minute. So talk to me though about, you know, the innovation. We, we, we had a lot of questions that we ask on this podcast about paying attention to innovation, what’s coming next? What are some of the things that you’re working on to focus and, and just keep pace with the innovation, right? I mean, you’re out there talking to customers. We were talking about some things that you’re doing before we started the recording. But maybe walk us through just, what are you doing just to keep tabs on innovation while still doing what you need to do? Go sell

Thomas Hamilton (08:30):
Listen to your podcast, the . Hey, listen to Chris podcast. Also listen to Sam podcast. And in addition to that, there’s some groups and LinkedIn groups that I’m following, definitely signed up for news and tech articles. Come to my email every day. Set up a couple of Google alerts so that those emails from articles all over the world come in try to read. I don’t get to do it as much as often as I’d like to. But I can get in some YouTube here and there. Those are, those are help. And it just lets me know what’s out there. Yeah. If I know what’s out there, then I can say, I can come to Fargo and say, Clares, Hey, do we have that in the wheelhouse? If not, who do, who, who might, what provider might have it in the wheelhouse that we can utilize?

Josh Lupresto (09:23):
Good. Okay. So, so let’s get back to the crazy topic, right? The, the, the topic of this one is how do, and, and, and really what do propane tanks, cows, air quality sensors have in common? So look, I mean, we, we’ve talked about the connected cow, right? How to be able to detect where the cows are, the body temperature, the cow, the milk production. And so, you know that seeing that graphic before, and it gives a good representation of things that maybe people don’t think about that IoT helps with, whether that be sensors or connectivity or, or, or whatever. So I’m gonna leave this really broad for you. How do you, how do you tackle that with the, you know, with the customer in need? Does, do you see the customers knowing what they need? Are you the one telling them kind of sparking ideas with that? Or how do you approach that?

Thomas Hamilton (10:12):
Right now, I’m in a mode where I’m more so sparking ideas letting customers know, Hey, there’s a technology out here that could assist with that. And, and I, like, I think the cow thing is really, really cool. I don’t have the agricultural customers yet, but just the whole technology behind being able to monitor the health of the cow monitoring, how much production they are they’re doing, being able to track data. And data is king. We always say it, you know, having more information is better than having less information. Propane monitoring. I, I think that is such, so important. I, I, I know going to a Home Depot to go switch out the propane tanks in New York, and I’m thinking, I was like, wow, it says flammable. It’s sitting in the back of this gas station parking lot, or it’s sitting here out in front of the Home Depot.

Thomas Hamilton (11:04):
Is it safe? Does anybody know if it’s getting too hot? Cool. you know, yes, they have, there’s one guy with the key that they gotta track down in Home Depot somewhere. Yep. But what if it’s one’s missing? I think, you know, those sensors can give you that kind of information. And I think that’s, it opens up possibilities. You know, what I, and, and, and that’s, I think that’s the main thing for me is, is open up possibilities. And with so many possibilities, we can have deeper conversations with our customers, which lead to different opportunities.

Josh Lupresto (11:38):
So we’re gonna get, coming up here, we’re gonna get to an example in just a sec, but maybe before we get to that example, let’s talk about ROI. I, I, I think when we see people and sometimes we approach them with a new technology or something they didn’t know that they needed, their brains go to like, okay, well what’s the return on this? Right? Maybe they’re not thinking like that. So when you’re talking to people and you’re getting excited about this technology, what is the ROI conversation like? I mean, does, are they asking it or is ROI driving it or business problems driving it? What, what kind of seeds are you planning or conversations going in there?

Thomas Hamilton (12:12):
So if I, if I may, I’m gonna use an example that I, I got from Epic. I l I went to go visit their facility. I’m in South Carolina these days, so I went up to their facility that’s right on the Charlotte border and I, they let me tour it and just the air filter center. They had that box that, you know, that helps with the mold, the mildew, and the smoke smell. And showed and discussed with me how it can be used in, in property management situations because I have property management companies in my portfolio. And also I, I, you know, discussed with someone who I knew had maybe 10 to 12 Airbnbs and, and how, how he utilizes something like that. And just to have further conversation. Sometimes it’s good to hear from, from the, from the supplier side and then hear it from the customer side.

Thomas Hamilton (13:05):
And this act person actually knew about this technology and said it saves him, because if somebody smokes in one of his Airbnbs, you know, he could lose that Airbnb for three to four days. And that was the conversation I was having with Epic, was that a hotel could lose a business for three or four days. And if it, and if it’s $200 a night, then that’s six, $700 in revenue. Especially in a, in a time crunch where let’s say, you know, we’re in March Madness and you know, the room are packed, you know, it’s probably 99% occupancy. You can’t afford to lose a room or three rooms or four rooms because people are having a great, great time. You know, so to have a box that could get your room back available and anywhere from, from six hours to, to 12 hours versus three to four days of airing it out, that, that the possibilities are there. And that’s the conversation I was having with, with a friend of mine who had the, the Airbnbs was like, yes. He’s like, it’s, it saves him money. It saves him money, and it makes him money. Mm-Hmm. . Cuz otherwise he would be taking multiple days of loss,

Josh Lupresto (14:12):
Man. Love him. Good ROI. Okay. All right. Example time. So walk us through an example that you got pulled into. You know, I’d just like to get into the weeds into these, right? So people can see kind of what the nuts and bolts are. So I’m just gonna throw out a couple things, right? If you can cover one or two of these, was it, when you got into it, was it exactly what you were told the problem was gonna be? Did you replace it or did you put in the kind of technology that you thought was gonna need to be put in? I mean, I kind of like to, to hear how did you get into it and what was it really that that was needed in there? So maybe just walk through that.

Thomas Hamilton (14:49):
Wow. So I’m thinking of an example of what one of my credit unions I think the conversation started at you using i o t for weapons detection. I’m sure you’ve heard of that one. And it went from weapons detection to detecting when somebody’s on premise and they maybe shouldn’t be when somebody’s outside the premise. I found out my customer has an issue with vagrants defecating near his side door at night or shooting up at night. And the centers could help with that. Alerting, alerting them, alerting the officers that, hey, somebody’s, somebody is near the credit union side door. I think the other conversation was dumpster fires as well. And I’m, and honestly, as a somebody who specialized originally in connectivity, I’m not thinking about dumpster fires. I that’s, that’s the fire alarm guy. I don’t, yeah. You know, I don’t help you with that. Or, you know, even security on the outside, you know, I’m not thinking about that either. And just have to be able to have those opportunities. And like I said, it, it started, the conversation started with, well, hey, I, I heard of it’s technology that, that can detect weapons and detect someone, somebody has an unholstered gun. And that started the conversation and it just led to quite a few other places. I think we also talked about the room. I’m sorry, what’s the room? What Josh what’s the room where all the technology is?

Josh Lupresto (16:23):
The IT closet,

Thomas Hamilton (16:24):
The iIT closet, the server room. Yes. Thank you very much.

Josh Lupresto (16:29):
. It is Monday. Oh,

Thomas Hamilton (16:31):
, it’s Monday. So, so the server closet, the AC unit was going down. Now that’s a credit union. They can’t afford for the server closet to go down and one of the AC units was going down. So to get in advanced alert on that is also very poss is also very important to them to know ahead of time that, Hey, we may need to have a repair guide come and fix this today while it’s breaking and not tomorrow when it’s broken.

Josh Lupresto (16:58):
Hmm. It’s good. Oh, that one definitely gets a all right. So, so walk us through then, final couple thoughts here. If, if, if I’m a partner, and I haven’t ventured into this area yet, you know, you’ve, you’ve ventured into this area, what would you coach another partner on as, as far as how to talk to this with their customers? Right? Is it, are, are you just teeing it up via certain couple questions? I mean, what, what advice would you have?

Thomas Hamilton (17:25):
So if I was a new partner going out I would, first I would take a look at the industries that I’m working in and, you know, primarily, and then I would ask questions of, of the suppliers. Okay. How could you, how do you help in these industries? Like I said, I, I’ve, so I have property management, ma management companies and real estate companies in my portfolio. I got great ideas on how to approach them. I had credit unions. I got great ideas on how to approach them. I have restaurants, which are different ideas. Walking, you know, you wanna censor for your walk-in refrigerator, you know, you wanna censor for your AC unit on the top cuz nobody wants to sit in a hot restaurant. And, and you can’t. And, and if your cooler goes out on your day, on your day off, now you have thousands of dollars of spoiled food.

Thomas Hamilton (18:18):
I I just, there’s so many other things. Like I had a sorry, I had a opportunity in a, a community center and they had lots of land and they, they’re concerned about people coming in the community area. Community center’s land at middle in the middle of the night. They also have a daycare, so they want to know where the kids are and they, they need the kids stray away. And all that is under IoT, ot. And it’s amazing what can be done. And then I know we, we didn’t even get into construction. So I mean, there are all these different opportunities in different industries. So I would say to someone, if you focus on a specific vertical or two or three, I would start talking to some of the suppliers, well, how could you help me in that, that that vertical?

Thomas Hamilton (19:09):
What are some of the things that other customers in that vertical have done? Just ask. And they’ll give you the questions to ask your customers. And then that’ll open up a door for not only IoT services, but some of the traditional services as well. That’s one of the biggest things that I, I take away from hearing you and Chris talk. It’s like, okay, so now we put in the IoT centers. Well, okay, we need better connectivity to support those IoT sensors. Okay. But now we need to secure them with security. And it’s like, oh, everything is just a loop. And it just brings you into one conversation, into another conversation, into another conversation, which, which it brings up revenue for us. So just what our goal is.

Josh Lupresto (19:51):
That’s good. I think that it feels like to me that, that puts a little bit of bow on the title of this whole talk track. You know, we asked this crazy question of what do all these tanks and cows and sensors and everything have in common? I think the reality is what they have in common is they’re creating a, a a lot of potential unnecessary work and unnecessary, extra cost. These items short of any sensors or any notification or any alarms or any alerts that are unified together that can correlate that data back to the customer, right? They’re, they’re, they’re causing unnecessary problems for the customers. So when we start talking about these sensors and the data, to your point, and adding that onto these items it tells a story and it helps the business be more efficient and, and helps ’em, I think, modernize and think of it in the way that they didn’t.

Josh Lupresto (20:39):
And I, I love your idea there of figure out where your customers are, your prospective customers are. And you know, just like back in the day of when we were selling uc, you’d go door to door and you’d look over the counter there and see what kind of phone system they had or you’d, you’d call into the business and see where you got stuck. I’d love it. And that worked great for a lot of people and people use the heck out of that. And so I I, I love it. Double down on this strategy. I, I think that’s awesome advice.

Thomas Hamilton (21:08):
Definitely. I I, it’s funny cuz I, I’ve looked over the counter. I still look over the counter. What

Josh Lupresto (21:13):
Kinda phone is that?

Thomas Hamilton (21:14):
That a Mitel? Is that NHC? Who is that? The old Nortel. Okay. Mm-Hmm. , write this down. Come back. Yeah,

Josh Lupresto (21:21):
That’s right. Put it in the cm. Absolutely.

Thomas Hamilton (21:23):
. Yeah. I, I think this is great. I mean, it’s a great opportunity for, for partners and it’s just to have conversations that you wouldn’t have and, and IoT centers generally speaking, depending on what they’re for, can be inexpensive. So it’s a easy sell and then you just stack onto it.

Josh Lupresto (21:42):
Absolutely. Okay, final thoughts here. Think future as we look at this, we think, you know, 20, 24 and beyond, you know, we, you’ve done a great job. I think educating people on what to look at how to have these conversations right now. So if we look out just a little while, you know, the next year plus, you know, from your perspective, anything gonna change or, or anything that is gonna change that you think will impact any of the advice or any of the talk track we just mentioned?

Thomas Hamilton (22:16):
I think as, as IoT sensors becomes more prevalent and more common, the conversation will change just as to, instead of explaining to somebody what it could possibly do, you’re now just telling them, Hey, this is what I have. The same way as you brought up what UC, when you see first came out, we were explaining, explaining, explaining in order to sell. Now it’s, well, can it do this? Can it take text messages? Can it can voicemail the email they’re asking you if it has these features versus you’re telling them what features are available. And I think that’s what the conversational will just change because customer knowledge will improve.

Josh Lupresto (23:03):
I love it. We’ll wrap it up right there. Okay. That’s all I got. Thomas, man, thanks so much for coming on. We covered a lot of good stuff today. Really appreciate it, buddy.

Thomas Hamilton (23:11):
I appreciate you again for having me. Thank you so much.

Josh Lupresto (23:14):
All right, everybody. That wraps us up for today. I’m your host, Josh lupresto, SVP of Sales engineering Thomas Hamilton, HamBTC. We’re done talking sensors and IoT. Until next time, this is Next Level BizTech.