Q&A: Bill McKiegan, Krell Industries, President
Krell Industries president Bill McKiegan talks about the best ways to sell high-performance audio.
Thirty years ago the high-performance audio category included a select group of brands that pushed home audio performance to its limits, and one of those companies was Krell Industries. Today Krell has remained true to its roots as a limited-distribution, high-performance audio manufacturer, amid changes in ownership and product development.
Bill McKiegan, president of Krell Industries, sets the records straight about the company’s current ownership and he shares some news about upcoming product releases.
Over the past couple of years Krell has transitioned into the hands of a new ownership group. Can you briefly talk about what brought these changes on and where the company is heading?
Actually, the ownership change was the addition of a minority partner in April 2009. The additional capital has improved our ability to develop products in the important categories of home theater processors, media streaming and IP connectivity. In 2012, Krell will introduce our first products to include IP streaming and control capability.
Has this change affected dealers, and what should they expect now for the brand?
Yes, in a positive way. Over the last two years, we’ve offered upgrades to our surround processors and flagship amplifiers. Additionally, we introduced two preamplifiers, two power amplifiers and, in the age of streaming, two new CD players that are selling exceptionally well. Dealers should expect us to continue to leverage our history for innovative engineering, peerless build quality and superior performance.
Has the economy affected consumer attitude and public perception of the high-performance consumer audio category?
We are not immune to the economy’s twists and turns, but our typical customer is less affected by them. Independent of the economy, to be a successful Krell dealer, one must be talking to people who have the means to afford our products. From there, it’s our collective job to inspire them to include superior audio products in their systems.
How does a dealer who may not have a traditional A/V background succeed in the sales of high-performance audio equipment?
You have to put in some work and expose yourself to the capabilities of products like ours. I can’t speak for all manufacturers, but we welcome dealers to visit our factory to see Krell products being manufactured and listen to the end result. High-performance audio and home theater is an experience-based sale, and dealers need to be able to convey this experience to their clients.
How important is it for dealers to have a demo system that’s fully setup and operational to help sell high-performance audio? Are there any dos and don’ts that dealers should follow demoing to non-audiophile clients?
The best way to sell high-performance audio is with a good demonstration. If limited on space, a dealer should display the best possible system. It is always easier to sell a less-expensive option, but nearly impossible to offer one that is more expensive after a compelling demo. This is basic top-down selling — always show or propose the best option first and then go from there.
The biggest “do” for a dealer is to credit the system for the performance. Too often, I hear dealers crediting the quality of the Blu-ray or CD for the great picture or sound. We should always be stressing that it is due to our system’s design and execution that the experience is so good.
The biggest “don’t” is getting into a technical description of products. Clearly, our products are very sophisticated, but most customers don’t care about how we get there; it’s the end result that matters to them.
Why should the audio category be important for dealers?
Unlike many categories that have become unprofitable, audio continues to be a source of profitable sales, and with high-performance audio these are also high-dollar sales. An added bonus is that clients often become very passionate about the brands they purchase. We also actively communicate with our end-users on upgrades and new products to help set the stage for when our dealers send their customer communications.
How do Krell’s products reflect the current market trends?
We’re very active in the lossless home theater surround arena with multiple processors and companion amplifiers. For 2012, we will make a big push into computer-based audio, including USB and Ethernet streaming.
What can Krell dealers expect to see in terms of new products in 2012?
For 2012 we’ll introduce our first preamplifier to include a digital-to-analog optional module. We will also add a larger integrated amplifier to our two-channel offerings. On the home theater side, we’ll release a lower-priced processor with HDMI 1.4, streaming and IP control. There will also be additional architectural models to our speaker lineup. There might be some other goodies, but I have to keep some secrets.
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