Audio-Visual Market Sounds, Looks Like Golden Opportunity

For the home security integrator/installer grappling with how best to attract new customers and increase revenue, it is time to start looking outside the box. Many among the home security brethren are discovering that the very same consultative selling processes used to market security systems and services are also ideal for selling high-end home entertainment systems to existing customers.

Dubious? Consider that you are already in the home. You have established your expertise in home electronics and wiring. And you’ve established your capacity to deliver products and services.

A security integrator/installer who has been successful in cementing customer relationships may be perfectly positioned to leverage existing customers into thousands of dollars of add-on sales.

Entering the market is not as complex as you might think. What follows is a guideline of sorts on how to get started and begin to build momentum in the lucrative home audio-visual (A/V) market.

Find a reliable provider – Technical and application support is imperative. You will need to partner with an electronic systems distributor that is already intimately familiar with national manufacturers and brands and how they integrate. The key is to do business with an A/V wholesaler, which can help you acquire the right combination of products, in the right location, delivered on time and priced for profit.

Product knowledge – Do not operate in the dark. Whichever distributors or manufacturers you choose, look for vendors that have invested in their technical staffs and that make their expertise available to reps in the field. This means doing business with home entertainment specialists – not generalists. Product knowledge is especially critical in consumer electronics.

Home entertainment systems consist of component parts interacting with one another. Not every product or technology is compatible with other technology. If a customer tries to run the latest 40-inch ultra-high-definition LCD TV screen off of a standard resolution DVD player, they are going to be disappointed. And if you try to run an audio cable too close to an electrical line, you can create interference problems.

Therefore, it’s not enough to know everything about a few individual components. To be a high-end home entertainment integrator, you have to understand equipment interoperability. No single manufacturer can tell you how all the different brands and components work together. For that you’ll need a professional dealer-consultant or distributor who can help your team climb the learning curve before commencing any installation.                            ?

Training – Look for a distributor that will help you become an expert. It’s not enough to send out a few technical manuals and release your reps into the field to fend for themselves. Home entertainment is not a commodity. Customers don’t buy a bargain; they buy an experience. Your product and systems expertise is key to demonstrating and delivering that experience. Don’t skimp on training.

Execution – Expertise is useless if an unorganized warehouse can’t ship the equipment. Processing and shipping delays are a drag on customer satisfaction and kill potential referrals. Furthermore, if you can’t rely on your distributor to ship your orders promptly and accurately, you’ll have to stock inventory yourself. This ties up precious operating capital, requires expensive office and storage space, and in some states, exposes you to inventory tax liability.

To keep your inventory manageable and your capital at work, use same-day shipping to either yourself or directly to the customer.

Simplicity – It’s much easier for an integrator/installer to deal with just a few reliable vendors than it is to maintain dozens of separate accounts. Boutique shops have their place, but to secure the most efficient and profitable way to acquire your main clientele, look for a distributor that can function as your one-stop shop for the bulk of your home entertainment supplies.

Leverage your base – Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Utilize your existing sales platform. If you’ve been in business for a while, you have an ideal foundation for expanding your business into home entertainment. You can magnify your success by contacting your existing customers with direct mail, E-mail, telemarketing, even visits from personnel on routine security system maintenance stops to share the news of your recent expanded service offerings.

Because your customers already know and trust your name and brand, you will be selling to your “warm” market – not a cold one. You won’t have to buy another mailing list, and chances are your sales team won’t have to suffer 100 rejections before they make a sale.

Look to the future – The home entertainment field has come a long way since the introduction of the color TV and the VCR. Technology continues to evolve in leaps and bounds. Markets are nowhere near saturated.

For instance, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), only 78 percent of builders offer structural wiring packages as standard or optional amenities. As consumers become ever more educated about home entertainment electronics, high-end novelty will become commonplace, much like indoor plumbing, air conditioning and telephone wiring.

The growth opportunity is there. It’s up to you to seize it.

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