People have been selling home theaters
for more than 20 years–certainly
long enough to have gotten it right.
Unfortunately, it has been long enough
for some very bad habits to develop in a
sales process that should be done in the
most professional way possible. When
we in the industry fail in this capacity we
fail ourselves, our businesses, and most
importantly our customers.
|Sam Cavitt (firstname.lastname@example.org) is
president of Paradise Theater in Kihei,
Hawaii, and Carlsbad, California.
I’ve observed at least five selling bad
habits and how they affect the private
While it is understood that “qualifying”
a client is important, and at some point,
a budget needs to be established, doing
so at the wrong time limits both the
opportunity to the integrator but more
importantly fixes the client’s attention on
cost rather than exploring possibilities. It is disheartening to see a client
that discovers experiential possibilities that cannot be obtained after an
arbitrary price ceiling has been established.
On a recently completed theater project, we took a very circuitous route
to meet the client’s performance requirements. This was clearly the result
of assumptions, both by the client’s representative and the integrator.
“Don’t go crazy” was the instruction from the client rep to the integrator,
who “interpreted” this as a comment about price. The client rep that
blinked at even this inadequate budget finally approved it. When we
eventually had the opportunity to meet the client, it became clear that
a higher performance design was desired. Unfortunately the client rep
again “translated” his client’s wishes. The client, frustrated by his team’s
failure to listen to his desires, asked us what we would do if price was no
object. Only then did the high-performance private theater take shape.
Ultimately, these assumptions cost the client time and money in revisions.
Unfortunately, much of what is offered in a home theater is based on
convenience rather than results. It is much simpler to sell and install a
system into a room than it is to properly engineer a room, then integrate
the system, décor, and engineering to deliver a complete solution.
Likewise, it is more complicated to design a quiet room environment;
so many sales people decide that the “client doesn’t need isolation” and
merely specify interior acoustical treatments. Thus, only a segment of vital
acoustical considerations are offered. This nod to convenience eliminates
much opportunity for integrators, as well-engineered rooms often inspire
clientele to upgrade components, not to mention the sale of acoustical
equipment and materials. To the client, a limited-project either leads
to a partial solution, as is the case when only the system is sold, or a
compromised experience, as would be the case when a noisy room masks
the detail from their audio components.
|Once your client understands their dream theater will be the result of an investment and that
result is important to them, outline your plan to deliver. Describe how you will accommodate the
engineering, planning, design, equipment, and fulfillment required to deliver your client’s vision.
There is no penalty for early consideration of design parameters and
always a great benefit in results, often with increased efficiency and
savings. Why then do sales people persist in procrastination when it comes
to hiring theater designers? We think it is because there is urgency to close
the sale of the system and anything else is perceived as a distraction.
In contrast to these bad habits, a performance-driven sales process will
lead to desirable results. This process ultimately has the client asking the
integrator for more, rather than asking to pay less.
Also help the client realize that the results are important to them.
Although this seems obvious, we hear too often about clients who infer
that performance is not that important or discernable to them. Develop
a discovery process that not only enables the sales person to learn about
the clients, but also enlightens the client on the unrealized possibilities
and how these are important to them. Talk about their past experience
in private theaters (theirs or others); have them provide a description of
their envisioned room; ask them to describe how they and their family will
use the room together and individually. Once your client understands that
their dream theater will be the result of an investment and that result is
important to them, outline your plan to deliver.