The Real Turn On

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I remember my first sale in the audio/video business like it was last week. I was 19 years old and had just joined the sales team at Montgomery Ward in Eagle Rock, California. I was on the floor less than an hour when an older couple came in with an advertisement for a 25-inch Wards Airline maple-finish TV console. Her biggest concern was if it would match their new family room furniture.

I remember that clearly because I had just completed Wards required one-day training course and really worked on remembering the differences between each TV model and each stereo set we had. I wanted to be sure that I could answer everyones questions. And all she wanted was to make sure it matched the color scheme and style of her newly decorated room.

His questions focused on the warranty, and he wanted to know if Wards really built the TV set (In fact, Admiral was the original equipment manufacturer at the time). After selling them an in-home service policy and scheduling a delivery date, they gave me their Wards credit card and the sale was completed. My manager helped me ring up the sale and I was giddy. I mean, at that very moment I was really high on life. The couple actually thanked me...they thanked me for giving me their money!

Over the next 32 years, that feeling has never left me. The feeling of knowing that my customer is completely satisfied continues to give me a rush like no other. And when things dont go perfectly and especially if my customer is angry, I get angry too, and work even harder to fix it fast. In todays competitive climate, where expectations hit new levels every week, if you can win customers and keep them, its a beautiful thing. Thats what its all about for mewinning.

I want to be the brand of choice for the specialist dealer, but getting to that position is the challenge. Its all the fun. Youve got to risk it all to be the best. And being the best as a supplier to CI dealers and custom retailers is the hardest challenge that I know in this business.

Its really all about their customer. Their customers want what they want, when they want it, and are willing to pay for it. But if our products cause our dealers to deliver under expectations to their customers, the amount of pain that will create for me is immense and sometimes lasts forever. The best dealers know that they do not get a second chance to make a first impression with their clients. That means all of the tools they use to deliver the experience that clients are willing to pay for, must be the best money can buy. Some of those tools are the products and services that I bring to their menu.

Whenever a dealer comes up to me to thank me for something we did, or some product or service that is cool, I remember that first sale I got when I was 19. Then I grin from ear to ear, feeling the adrenaline rush just like I did back then, and I politely say, Thank you. Man, it just doesnt get any better than that.

Mark Weisenberg is general manager of Sunfire in Snohomish, Washington, and has more than 30 years of experience in the consumer electronics industry. Prior to Sunfire, he was with Integra and has also held key executive positions with specialty brands SpeakerCraft, Sonance, Luxman Audio, California Audio Labs, and Infinity Systems.

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