For some reason, many people in our industry seem to slag Sonos, and I honestly don’t understand it. Is it because it is mainly a consumer solution that doesn’t require hours of installation and programming, or take years of training to understand? Is it because it doesn’t come with an audiophile pedigree? Is it because it mostly eschews traditional control options and instead relies on its own app?
Our company used to similarly swim upstream by not selling Bose. People used to come into our store, often after visiting the local (now closed) Bose outlet, and they would want to buy one of the Lifestyle systems. Now, even though we could order the product through one of our distributors—and, in fact, we had brought in a top-of-the-line Bose system to demo just how much better our other solutions sounded in comparison—when these customers would come in ready to pull the trigger on a Bose system, instead of just selling it to them, we’d spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince them of all the reasons why other things were better and cheaper.
As you can imagine, a lot of them left without buying anything, probably returning to the Bose store to just buy the thing they wanted.
Finally, one day my business partner and I had an epiphany. We asked ourselves why we kept fighting against the tide? If people came in wanting Bose, let's just sell it to them! It’s a slam dunk, easy sale where they leave happy, we're happy, and we move on to sell another day.
It's kind of the same with Sonos. Just because you may or may not want to have it in your house doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right solution for some of your customers or your business. Our company has been a Gold Level Sonos dealer for a few years now, and at no time in my entire AV career has there been a product that is easier to sell, resulting in such a high end-user satisfaction.
Here are five reasons why I think you should consider adding Sonos to your product lineup:
1. It Sells Itself
Sonos is advertising in non-traditional channels, like, you know, the Super Bowl. Because of this, they are reaching an entirely new set of customers that are intrigued by the idea of wirelessly adding music throughout their home. Because of this, Sonos is virtually the only product we sell where people call and come in asking about and looking to buy. It also has incredibly high name recognition, and your customers have likely heard of it, and probably even know someone who has it. A Sonos sale doesn’t take multiple meetings or hours of A/B demonstrating; it takes an iPhone/iPad and about five minutes. Or the customers just walk in and buy it, no questions asked.
2. Installation is Very Simple
Sonos is one of the only products we sell where we can just hand a box to somebody and let them put it in on their own. Once the system is up and running, it literally takes longer to unbox a new component than it does to add it to the system. (That’s actually part of my sales patter.) Now, this might seem scary or contrary to the custom installation model, but trust me, there are still many customers that will want you to come and “just make it work” for them. Because it is so simple to install, you can send fewer installers to more jobs in a day. And in that rare instance where you do run into a problem (often something network related), Sonos’ tech support is actually incredibly helpful, knowledgeable, and readily available.
3. Everyone Sells at the Same Price
“But, John, our customers can buy Sonos at places like Target and Best Buy. They can even buy it from Sonos directly! Why should we compete with them?!” This is all true, but Sonos has done what almost no other company seems capable of doing: they have kept pricing in check, ensuring everyone sells its products at the same price—even Amazon! When you remove price from the equation, why wouldn't somebody rather buy from you than Target? It should be easy to win them over with a better demo, better product knowledge, and better support.
4. It’s Incredibly Scalable
One of the things that I really love about Sonos is its scalability, letting you match the performance needs of each room and project. In a small room, use a single speaker. Want to make it sound better? Turn it into a stereo pair. Still need more sound? Add a sub. Don’t like Sonos speakers? Use your favorite bookshelf or in-ceiling model with a Connect Amp and your powered sub brand of choice. Need more or better power than what the Connect Amp delivers? Use a Connect with your favorite outboard amp. Still need higher performance? Fine, add an outboard DAC. You can also go from a soundbar to a full surround system in steps, letting customers easily add to their systems. Sonos is also terrific for updating older jobs, refreshing those 10–20-year-old distributed audio systems by adding smartphone/tablet control.
5. Its Unmatched Streaming Service Options
While other companies continue to add services, Sonos sits king atop the mountain of native streaming, with more than 60 services currently supported. Sure, your customers might never wander past Pandora, Rhapsody, or SiriusXM, but they might want Murfie, Concert Vault, Deezer, Tidal, and soon, Apple Music. I often challenge people to name a music service that Sonos doesn’t support and then scroll through to show them all of the available choices. Bottom line, no one has ever been wanting for music—new or old—on a Sonos system.
Look, I get that Sonos isn’t the right solution for every job, and I’m definitely not implying that it should be your only audio distribution solution. Brands like Autonomic, CasaTunes, Fusion, BlueSound, and PlayFi are great if your customers need high-res playback or if systems require advanced integration features. (Though Sonos integration with Control4 following the recent acquisition of Extra Vegetables and C4’s OS 2.6 release is pretty righteous.) What I am saying, however, is that Sonos will bring customers into your store—both new ones and existing ones. And every opportunity that you have to make a customer impression is a chance to show them something new, get another foot in the door, cement yourself as the technology export, and maybe sell them something more than just a single speaker—either today, or at some point in the future.
John Sciacca is principal of Custom Theater and Audio in Myrtle Beach, SC.