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6 Success Stories for Selling Audio

Most successful CE pros in 2010 made their money on audio, and they did it in very different ways: good demos, good DACs, good psyche and good “game” faces.


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Stereo One owner John Selby plays HD audio clips to demonstrate the Mark Levinson and Revel Speakers in his showroom.

While many integrators choose to lament the shrinking margins in TV sales, others are actively picking up the slack with audio.

Some of the most successful CE pros last year made their money on audio, and they did it in very different ways: through good demos, good DACs, good psyche and good “game” faces.

It seems audio is making a comeback. These dealers share their secrets of success.

1. Satisfied Salespeople Make Good Champions
When Toledo, Ohio-based Jamiesons Audio Video began selling Sonos wireless music systems four years ago, every store employee received a bundle as a gift, along with a one-year subscription to the Rhapsody streaming music service.

Sales associate Scott Caventer was one of those employees.

“Several of us embraced the product when we first brought it on board,” he says, but using the system at home really kick-started sales.

“Everyone, including all the installers, started using one at home and realized how easy and fun it was to use,” Caventer explains. “We tell the customers that Sonos is the first product in the 56-year history of our company that everyone in the company owns!”

2. Rev it up and Think Big
About two years ago, Jamiesons was approached by McIntosh about putting a $120,000 system -- including preamp, DAC, CD transport, mono amps, turntable and speakers — on display at the Toledo store.

“Frankly, I was somewhat intimidated,” says Caventer. “This may not be a big system in some areas of the country, but in recession-ravaged Toledo, it is a very big system, especially back in 2008.”

Even so, Jamiesons took on the display, which McIntosh had offered for six months. The custom retailer was so successful with the setup that McIntosh kept the gear there for an additional six months, and eventually Jamiesons bought it for permanent display.

“I’ve sold five of the MC1.2kw amps, two pairs of the XRT1K speakers, and six of the smaller MC501 (500 watt) amps off this display within the last two years,” Caventer says.

And many customers who opted for other brands nevertheless were sold on high-end audio based on the McIntosh demo. The opportunity to demonstrate performance audio challenged Jamiesons to aim high, and the retailer rose to the occasion.

Caventer himself created a demo “to show this system off to as many people walking into the store as possible."

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Until they built the McIntosh demo, Jamiesons never thought they could sell high-end audio

He loaded 75 of his favorite demo CDs - ripped uncompressed - onto a network storage accessible from an in-store Sonos music distribution system. He and other sales associates rehearsed simple dialog “to tell the customers what they would be hearing,” Caventer says. “I started taking people into our sound room to show them our ‘Ferrari’ sound system. People were blown away with the sound quality as well as how easy it was to use the Sonos system to access music.”

The demo has spurred many Jamiesons customers to buy high-performance audio on impulse. Better yet, for the majority of clients who aren’t ready for such an investment, the experience lingers long after the demo.

Caventer tells of a client who came to Jamiesons to buy an entry-level Blu-ray player.

“I knew he loved music, so I took him into the room with the big system,” Caventer recalls. “He listened for a few minutes, then I switched him to a system that I knew would be a better fit for his living room.”

The client didn’t bite right away, but a few months later he called to say he was changing jobs, moving to a new city and “doing pretty well for himself.”

Based on the demo, he bought a system that totaled more than $30,000.





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Article Topics

News · Business Resources · Audio · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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