Phillip Staats, of Platinum AV Designs, recommended NetStreams to his clubhouse client because he believed that its products were ideal for the size of that job. Credit: Boot Ranch/Kirk Tuck
In just a year since ClearOne launched its Tech Sales pre-sale support program, the audio conferencing products manufacturer says it has received very positive response from dealers, many of which credit the system as having helped them win bids.
The program requires a sales manager or rep to submit a system design to Tech Sales where a ClearOne representative will validate the design and make suggestions for best practices, such as a more efficient line of amplifiers, for example.
Tech Sales also includes configuration, feasibility studies, training, and product education. If a consultant or dealer needs training—maybe they aren’t familiar with all of NetStreams’ products or aren’t a certified network dealer—Tech Sales is capable of configuring and programming the entire AV system remotely. If necessary, ClearOne will even send service staff onsite to support the initial installation with basic training for no cost.
“Some people just use it to ask questions if they don’t know about ClearOne equipment,” explained Michael Braithwaite, senior vice president of technology at ClearOne.
Braithwaite, who was responsible for conceiving and implementing the Tech Sales program, describes it as “ pre-sales version [of tech support].”
The Tech Sales program is most popular on the larger residential systems. Over the course of the recession, many dealers have downsized their technical staff or have hired younger talent that is less familiar with the industry. “This is where Tech Sales can really help [dealers],” Braithwaite said. “We can facilitate the complete design of that residential project—the control points, security controls, AV course control, flow drawings, equipment lists, [etc .].”
And the feedback from dealers has been very positive, especially from small firms for whom Tech Sales has helped win bids.
Phillip Staats, owner of custom installation firm Platinum AV Designs in Fredericksburg, TX, benefited from the Tech Sales program on a golf course clubhouse project featuring 22 zones of AV. “Everyone I talked to through NetStreams just has made it very nice,” he said. “They made sure I was not ordering anything I didn’t need and ordering everything I did need.”
Staats recommended NetStreams to the clubhouse client because he believed that its products were ideal for the size of that job. Tech Sales helped make sure everything worked together, including how the audio and video matched up on all the displays, he said.
The Tech Sales program helped Platinum AV Designs win a bid on this 22-zone installation.
Credit: Boot Ranch/Kirk Tuck
The organization of the whole process was a big take-home point for Staats. “It seemed like it flowed better,” he said. “On normal jobs, you don’t have someone to help you along like this.”
Even for dealers that do have advanced technical know-how, “we’re introducing new products all the time,” Braithwaite said. “They still can use Tech Sales because they may not be up on the latest state of the art for everything.”
With digital media content and content protection in particular, Braithwaite said there are so many questions with those advanced technologies, “unless you’re really, really up on it, you need Tech Sales.”
ClearOne works on a mix of residential and commercial projects. After purchasing NetStreams in November 2009, ClearOne retained the company’s name as its primarily residential brand. The business has seen some interesting flip-flops between the two market channels.
After the housing bubble burst, ClearOne’s ratio of commercial versus residential projects completely reversed, unsurprisingly, with about 80 percent of projects commissioned being commercial. “The interesting thing is there were huge commercial project deployments going on then. [ClearOne] did six or seven big stadiums,” as well as some casinos and hotels, among others, Braithwaite said.
“What I’ve seen in 2011 is residential has retaken the position,” he said. “Residential is probably 60 percent of our business right now.”
He hasn’t seen this level of activity since 2008, when about 20 percent of that was retrofit. He’s now seeing about half of the residential projects as retrofits. The icing on the cake of this encouraging news is that “the big homes are back,” Braithwaite said. “Thirty- to 40-zone houses are back.”
“The program requires a sales manager or rep to submit a system design to Tech Sales where a ClearOne representative will validate the design and make suggestions for best practices, such as a more efficient line of amplifiers, for example.”