Wise words from one of our own.
More times than not, it seems the “A” in A/V becomes an afterthought. I like to think it is the first letter because it is the most important, but opinions will vary on that. Much like any other product or service offering, salespeople will always gravitate towards their comfort zone, whether it is the right solution or not for the end user and even if it means leaving margin/revenue on the table. The concept of audio systems is a prime example and my goal in writing this piece is to illustrate how to avoid doing a disservice to your customers and to your own company.
It was 7 months ago when I was approached with an offer to manage our Harman product line. My first thought was pure excitement of the new responsibilities, not to mention the opportunity to become further entrenched in the Pro A/V industry. I have always considered myself a “student” and the more I can learn, the better version of me I would become. With that being said, my 2nd thought was a resounding “but I don’t KNOW Audio!” From my past experiences in consumer A/V, I was well aware of how vast of a product lineup Harman carried, however I also became aware of the fact there were now 9 different lines I would be responsible for learning. Yes, I said 9! My competitive side wanted to immediately learn every feature of every sku of every line…..which I later realized was not the wisest decision by any means. That is when it dawned on me- Harman and pro audio were no different than my responsibilities in Telecommunications in that all I needed to do was ask the proper qualifying questions while also relying on the support team I was given. Harman has an incredible team of inside support staff and product engineers who are available for the simplest inventory requests to the most complex system designs. I found that you only needed to learn WHO to turn to and at WHAT time should you turn to them. This also allowed me the ability to learn the products and features as we went along in the process.
Let’s dive into the one aspect I mentioned above which was, learning to ask the right qualifying questions. I have always been a firm believer that you can’t sell something if you don’t ask. Simply put- if you don’t ask your customers about their audio solutions, chances are they won’t be asking you! So how exactly do you ask about audio if YOU DON’T KNOW AUDIO? “Mr. Customer, based on your needs I think we can put together a perfect display solution for you. Now let me ask, what are you currently doing to address your AUDIO needs?” THAT’S IT! That one question is normally all you would need to ask in order to get the conversation started and get your foot in the proverbial door to audio. This is the moment where the customer might state that he has never thought about audio or he might say he is already sourcing that elsewhere and it gives you a chance to try and win the business. It will allow you to gather the customer’s needs, how they want the system to function, the dimensions of the room, etc., and then provide that detail to the support team in place at the appropriate vendor to begin designing the proper solution.
Harman happens to not only have one of the widest audio product lineups in the country, but I have found that they also have a wide array of training resources available regardless of your skill level. Did you know that simply by going to https://pro.harman.com/applications you can select the application you are working on and see an example of the necessary hardware required? It is through this method that I was able to learn about JBL Surface Mount Speakers, Crown Amplifiers, as well as DBX Zone Processors and how they function in a restaurant environment. Another tool I have learned to value is through the Harman Professional University Training Program. Through these resources that Harman has invested in, it becomes far easier to dive into the world of Professional Audio whether you are initially comfortable with the idea or not.
Hopefully I have started the thought process for you on how to begin offering Audio to your customers. Aside from added value to your clients, you will be pleasantly surprised by the increased comfort you have recommending new services/products not to mention the HIGHER MARGINS! I challenge each of you to explore new opportunities involving audio and start the process TODAY. You may contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-251-7685 and I will get you and your team registered on Harman Professional University and begin reviewing possible leads where we can easily integrate audio into the mix. So, the next time you speak with a potential client, feel confident in saying “Lets Talk About Your Audio Needs” because you now KNOW AUDIO!