Little Gems From CEDIA Business Xchange

Candid Conversations, ‘Off-Script’ Moments Leave Lasting Impression
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Candid Conversations, ‘Off-Script’ Moments Leave Lasting Impression

There are times when my favorite “aha” insights at industry conferences come from scripted moments during keynote sessions or “bold-print” presentations. But just as often, the little gems are gleaned from casual conversations.

For instance, last month at CEDIA Business Xchange in San Antonio, I noticed Technology Design Associates owner Ron Wanless checking his phone during dinner. When I asked him if everything was OK, he told me, with a sparkle in his eye, that a new “plugin” on his company’s website texted him and his in-office service tech whenever a visitor stayed on their website for more than 30 seconds. A pop-up window would ask the visitor if he or she needed assistance, and Wanless or his service tech could respond through a live chat. Wanless told me that his new live chat tool already had led to six conversations with potential clients and three actual projects, just in the first three weeks.

That candid convo was a keeper, but so were some of the more “scripted” business tidbits from Xchange. During his “I Am CEDIA” presentation, Texas home tech pro Buddy Hughes said it took a few years to realize that he should not try to sell everything to everyone on his website, and that custom integration meant building relationships with a one or two key vendors in each category.

Because of his company’s more focused approach with vendors, improved website SEO, and authentic website design (pictures of his team and actual projects), it has grown from a quarter-million-dollar company to $3-4 million in three years.

Featured speaker Rochelle Carrington, from Sandler Training, talked about how people “buy emotionally” but “make decisions intellectually.” In other words, we buy because of the way something makes us feel, but have to justify it to ourselves later.

In another compelling “I Am CEDIA” presentation, Amanda Wildman, co-owner of TruMedia in Michigan, told us about how she and her husband have evolved their company from a DISH TV installation firm to a fully realized integration business. Wildman said that her clients were always more comfortable with her company because the price point of satellite services was less intimidating and allowed them to earn their clients’ trust through the quality of their work and the products that they installed.

TruMedia started its CI business modestly with builders in the $350,000 custom home range, but have found that high-end builders of $1-2 million homes are showing more interest as they struggle to compete with the tech offerings from their mid-market competitors.

And then there was that candid moment during an Idea Xchange open forum on the topic of “working with” and “selling to” the Millennial generation. When asked if his younger clients were any different from older ones, Absolute AV Consulting’s Richard Friesen looked at me and thought for a moment. “One of my clients closed a big deal with a ‘thumbs up’ emoji via text,” he said, smiling. “I’d never seen that before.”

See what I mean about little gems? I can’t stop thinking about that one.