One thing manufacturers recognized pretty early-on during the pandemic was that in-person trainings were totally out-the-window. However, this didn’t change the fact that people still needed training. This resulted in a big push for online certifications, which enabled employees to stay in the comfort of their homes or showrooms while still getting trained-up at a time of day that works for them. Many companies even incentivized their programs by making them free and even offering prizes. (I actually won a 48-inch OLED from LG’s ReachLG online training!)
Kaleidescape has always had an extensive amount of information, resources, and white papers available for dealers on its website discussing all facets of its premium movie server solution, but these materials haven’t always been presented in a way that was easily digestible. To address this, Kaleidescape brought on Brett Bjorkquist as its senior manager of dealer engagement. Brett has a lengthy career in this industry, including time on-the-floor at The Goodguys!, as well as stints at Monster, Voxx, Logitech, and Bowers & Wilkins, as well as currently volunteering on two CEDIA boards, focused on online and in-person dealer education.
The company wants dealers to know it is there to help and support them, and to help grow their business. In line with this, Brett’s role is to help them grow their confidence in selling Kaleidescape systems and make sure they have the tools needed to close more sales and sell bigger systems. He says, “As Kaleidescape celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, it’s a perfect time for dealers to re-educate themselves on a product line considered the industry standard by manufacturers and dealers alike.”
Even with travel restrictions and group gatherings being lifted, many dealers are so busy that the idea of sending a tech off for training is still a tough pill. With this program, technicians can easily get the training they need on their own schedule — and for free.
The new Dealer Certification Program launched this past May, and it is comprised of eight courses plus a short walkthrough that can all be completed in about 2.5 hours (though Brett tells me there are about 12 more courses currently planned). The classes are typically in small, easily consumed 15-to-20-minutes bite, and you can save your progress and exit at any time if needed. Course content was built around dealer input and feedback, and a small, 5-to-10-question quiz typically follows each session.
As a fan, dealer, and owner of the company’s products, I decided to take the training and get certified. The short length of each session made it easy for me to knock out one or two classes a day while things were slow at work, letting me easily pause to grab a phone call or deal with anyone that came into my showroom.
The first class is a 10-minute “Learning Center Overview” that walks you through the program and explains how to find things on the dealer website. Once you enroll in the Certification, it automatically adds the courses to your curriculum in the correct order.
First up is a 30-minute overview on the company, taking you through a variety of Kaleidescape-related topics. Think of this as Kaleidescape 101, as it addresses things like, Why Kaleidescape is an important product for you and your clients, Key features and benefits of the Kaleidescape platform, Overcoming the streaming-is-good-enough objection, An introduction to lossy vs. lossless content, and a general product overview.
This was one of my favorite courses from the training, and there are lots of great takeaways here for selling premium components, not just Kaleidescape. Concepts like the quality of the source material – having full fidelity, lossless audio, with less video compression – is what will guarantee that installed systems perform to their full potential. Heavy compression from streaming results in muddy dialog and lack of depth in bass and detail in upper range. It can also introduce video artifacts like pixilation, color blocking and banding, and lack of detail. Ultimately, the client loses out on the performance they paid for.
Similar to how you wouldn’t sell a client a flagship tower speaker and then encourage them to stream from a free, low-bitrate Pandora account, premium components need premium content to deliver the best performance.
All Kaleidescape products are built and packaged locally in the U.S., which helps with reliability (current systems have 99.5 percent reliability) and availability.
Dealers that consistently and actively demonstrate systems sell more, and it is a great opportunity to go back and offer a system as an upgrade to a client as the quality improvement is immediate.
To help with this, Kaleidescape offers dealers an in-home demo program where they can purchase a preloaded Strato-S with more than 65 movies, including fan favorites and pre-marked demo content that is great for leaving with a client for a few days to get them hooked.
Classes two, three, and four are all on using the Dealer Extranet, including how to find articles and programs, how to add and edit employees, how to modify alerts from client systems, how to create quotes and orders, and how to use the various support tools. The support tools are some of the best in the industry, letting you easily check on the dashboards of systems tied to your company. Here, you can quickly check the warranty status on systems, check temperatures of components (including a 14-day history), check on remaining storage, check which version of software the system is running, and more. By creating alerts, you can often be notified of a problem before your client is even aware of one.
Course five is on Creating Demo Scripts, which can not only help you demonstrate (and sell!) a Kaleidescape system, but it can also be great for selling other premium systems in your store. As an added bonus, it also enables clients to better show off their systems, which hopefully also results in sales referrals. This course shows how to easily create a favorite scene — or use one of the many pre-bookmarked iconic scenes — and then string these scenes together into a script. As the class states, “Create the ultimate demo reel with demo scripts to enable you to give truly memorable demos to sell systems.”
My other favorite class was on “Consultative Selling.” This 20-minute course is packed with great nuggets of wisdom that we’ve probably all heard before, but it is nice to hear again and have reinforced. Beyond just trying to sell a Kaleidescape system, this is designed to help you qualify a customer so they purchase the correct system for their needs.
As luxury dealers, should always strive to amaze our clients, and should focus on demonstrating expertise and quality. We should also convey the importance of quality, explaining why a high-quality source will deliver the most out of their system versus a streamer. Integrators often confuse pricing and discounting with value. Properly qualifying clients helps better understand what and why certain areas are important to them, allowing us to provide customized value that might have nothing to with price.
Our job is to demo and inform clients of the possibilities and give them the offer to “test drive the Ferrari” even if they weren’t planning on buying one. Also, showing someone the best demonstrates you are not pre-judging them and allows them to be aspirational.
Qualifying questions include: Do they mainly purchase or rent content? More than 75 percent of K owners have more than 100 movies on their system. Do they enjoy quality in other areas, such as in their home, car, watch, or art?
Finally, no one goes immediately from selling Hondas to Ferraris, so you should take every opportunity to build your sales and presentation knowledge while improving your skills and confidence.
The seventh class discusses the process for setting up a Terra server for replication, say if a customer is upgrading to expand the storage of a system. One consistent message on online forums is, “I love my Kaleidescape product, but I always have to delete movies to add more.” Plus, this requires clients to wait for downloads and doesn’t provide instant access to their full content collection. Further, a Terra server has a faster processor, delivering four-times faster downloads, has removable drives in case one fails for infield replacement, can simultaneously serve up to 10 4K movies for whole-home viewing, and comes in 24 and 48 Terabytes for storing up to 400 or 800 4K movies.
The final class is on “Cataloging Content” with an Alto player, which is a great sales tool that enables customers with extensive existing disc collections to take advantage of Kaleidescape’s disc-to-digital upgrade pricing. Once a title has been cataloged, the customer can make a digital upgrade for far less money, with many Blu-ray to 4K HDR titles costing less than $5. This allows owners to upgrade and grow their collections on their schedule, or wait for sales to come. Further, Kaleidescape is rolling out an Alto loaner program as a sales incentive tool, and you should contact your regional sales manager or Brett to find out more!
After successfully completing all classes — and the accompanying tests —you can download and print a certificate that looks like this:
Further, Kaleidescape’s sales department will see if a company has been certified, and will call out certified companies on their dealer locator. While specifically geared towards selling Kaleidescape, I feel the training will be beneficial for all salespeople focused on selling luxury systems, giving some great tips on things to focus on and helping to properly qualify a sale.
“I joined Kaleidescape because I believe the future of our industry is not only about delivering premium quality content, but also providing tools that help our dealers manage and maintain their client’s systems remotely, while integrating with control products throughout the home,” explains Brett. “The certification program, built with insights from various dealers, is designed to help you educate clients on how Kaleidescape optimizes other premium products you sell, delivering the best home cinema experience.
“Whether you’ve been a dealer in the past or looking at Kaleidescape for the first time, after taking the certification program, I think you will be as excited as I am to be part of the Kaleidescape community.”
Technicians looking to take the training must be employed by a current Kaleidescape dealer, and can register for the training on Kaleidescape’s dealer extranet site https://extranet.kaleidescape.com/.
If you have any questions, Brett has also provided his email address for dealers to reach out to him directly: [email protected].