Selling the Great Outdoors

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Now, its surely sloppy, wet, and cold in most of our hometowns, but that means it is time to think of selling spring and summer entertainment fun to get folks out of their winter funk. Think about the clients you are going to call on this week to close some sales. Are you leading with what they want or something that they would like but just didnt think of? Are you being creative with outdoor fun?

Get your client excited about something that shows you are thinking ahead and ready to close the sale now. Talk about something you know the customer enjoys about the outdoors: koi ponds, great whites in the Australian Pacific, or birds in the sky over South Dakota. Paint them a picture and take them there. Then bring this imagery into their home, onto their property. Help them visualize their backyard, patio, pool, garden, lake, or river in a way that they never did before.

Once youve talked about the fun theyve had, it is time for the serious sell. Tell them you have a few ideas for making their outdoor entertainment experience better than they could ever imagine. You know that they will have a nice irrigation system and great lighting. Start with that. If they believe that their dirt is worthy of water and light, then surely they will want to be on their dirt while enjoying good sound.

There are so many options for great sound outdoors. Everyone makes traditional outdoor cabinet speakers and rock speakers. But how can you use them effectively? How important is stereo imaging outside? If you want to cover a yard effectively, multiple speakers playing at moderate volume will fare better than fewer speakers played loudly. And, feeding a blended stereo channel to each rather than alternating stereo pairs, will provide a balanced sound field. Most multi-channel power amplifiers have a dip-switch feature to enable this.

How about some outdoor bass? There are a few ways to do this. For a simple, unobtrusive approach, go with some radical eight-inch woofer outdoor speakers and space them far enough apart to get a good bass wave and keep them close to the ground for earthy boom-boom. Wedge them up against the house or a block wall in the garden to load the bass forward.

Outdoor speakers are typically challenged by their distance from the amplifier, so youll need a burly model for the outdoor zones. Maybe bridging the 50- to 75-watt variety for 100-plus watts per channel is the way to go, or use a multiple higher power two-channel amp dedicated to the outdoor zones. No matter what, pay attention to Ohms law here and go for more power and use 14 AWG cable with a burial grade jacket to prevent the nasty effects of the great outdoors and other environmental vermin.

Your client probably has a wireless network in their home and would dig being able to sit outdoors surfing and e-mailing while they listen to tunes. Be ready with a high-performance wireless router that evenly covers their outdoor property. And be sure to help them design a favorite sitting spot outdoors where they can shield their screen from the natural light with minimum washout.

Now youve got them hooked, closed, and ready for more. Time to move inside their shack. Keypads and volume controls come in outdoor versions so be sure whatever is appropriate is well-placed and is absolutely of a UV-stable material. That white volume control is not supposed to resemble Grey Poupon after a few months in the sun.

Did you note that your client likes to cook outdoors? Video display, access to source, and volume control and lighting adjustment should be right there with the flame adjustments for the grille.

Did you include a phone jack and weatherproof drawer for the phone to reside in at a convenient spot for both cooking and lounging? You can bet that this will be a welcome perk to anyone even in this age of skin-grafted mobile phones.

What about the walk-up to their front door? Even something as simple as a mono-summing or single stereo speaker at the entry with music playing softly makes a great impression on their friends and neighbors.

Dont forget about the door experience: the doorbell. Install a beautiful door station with a metallic finish that suits the dcor. You can configure these rascals with a telephone module so that the phones ring with a doorbell tone or into your distributed audio system for paging and doorbell function. Heck, a camera there is a great security enhancement, too. And, what if someone told you about their success with integrating an iPods playlist with a doorbell?

Now get out there and be creative, because we all know that nothing happens until somebody sells something.

Buzz Delano (buzz@delanoassociates.com) has more than 20 years of worldwide sales, marketing, customer service and business development experience.

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