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Sonos Drops Reps, Promises ‘Tangible Enhancements’ to Dealer Programs

Sonos is eliminating independent reps for the CEDIA channel, but will offer new benefits like free shipping to dealer-direct customers.

Sonos Drops Reps, Promises ‘Tangible Enhancements’ to Dealer Programs
Sonos blows kisses at the home-technology integration (CEDIA) channel with new dealer programs: "[W]e want you to succeed and we’re going to do everything we can to help with that."

Julie Jacobson · May 1, 2017

Sonos is about to improve its existing “dealer program” with free shipping on large orders, special demo packages and “additional benefits that will reward you to grow with us,” according to a statement to specialty A/V dealers.

For years, integrators have had a love-hate relationship with the wireless-audio giant. Clients love the product, it doesn’t break, and even if CEDIA (custom installation) dealers can’t make great margins on the Sonos product itself, they can at least do well on attachments like loudspeakers. 

On the other hand, margins are weak by industry standards, consumers can buy Sonos products virtually anywhere, there’s no differentiating products for specialty dealers, and Sonos pushes consumers to cut-rate providers like Enjoy.com. Furthermore, once clients register their products, Sonos solicits them directly, with no remuneration for the original dealer.

And then there’s integration. Sonos did not support home automation integration for almost all of its existence, which ultimately proved the right strategy to preserve the stellar user experience and dominate the mass market.

But when Sonos did go to integrate, it broke the current unsanctioned integrations and created a “nightmare” for installers and their clients.

The fiasco may have been more a case of bad communication with dealers than poor strategy, but bad communication is a problem that Sonos’s existing dealer program did not address.


NEXTSonos Doesn’t Hate Custom Channel; They Just Don’t Communicate Well


The company expects that to change with a new structure that takes effect June 1.

At that time, Sonos will say goodbye to independent reps and transition to a “100% direct service model” with a new “dedicated Custom Integrator channel management team.”

Details of the program are still vague, but the company does promise free shipping on orders greater than $3,000 and “a formal Demo Program, to make it easier to put Sonos in front of your clients.”

Beyond that, according to the dealer memo: "From the Dealer Program enhancements mentioned above, to a new field team structure, to a dedicated Custom Integrator channel management team, to better communication, we want you to succeed and we’re going to do everything we can to help with that."

The letter to dealers is reproduced below.

Sonos Change to Service Model

Dear Sonos Dealer

In 2012, we introduced our first Regional Sales Specialist (RSS) to the channel.  That was our first, dedicated Sonos employee for the Custom Integrator channel.  Since then, we’ve grown that to a team strategically positioned across the US, with more on the way.  With this team, we’ve been able to create and maintain more direct relationships with you and we’re now ready to pivot to a 100% direct service model.

As part of the continued evolution of our service model and Dealer Program, we have made the decision to bring all of our dealer relationships in-house, and have notified all of our Manufacturer Representative Firms across the US that effective June 1st, 2017, we will have moved to a direct service model.

First and foremost, we want to take a moment to publicly thank each and every one of our Manufacturer Representative Firms for their help in building Sonos in the vital and growing business that it is today. They allowed us to quickly grow our footprint in the US Custom Integrator channel and may have even been responsible for signing you up as a Sonos dealer.  While no less disappointing to those impacted, we have tried to be as transparent as possible about our long-term vision to go direct, and are confident that making this tough decision now puts us in a better position to deliver great experiences for the channel and your customers for moving forward.  We will forever be grateful to the individuals whose support and partnership over the years have helped get us to where we are today.

In addition to moving to this 100% direct service model, we’re excited to roll out some tangible enhancements to our Dealer Program that you will soon receive as a Sonos direct dealer. Effective June 1st, 2017, we will launch a Free Freight Program for all orders over $3,000.  Additionally, we will also be launching a formal Demo Program, to make it easier to put Sonos in front of your clients.  The details of both of those programs will be shared later this month.  We’re also working on additional benefits that will reward you to grow with us.   

We hope it’s clear that we do absolutely value this channel and we are continuing to invest to help you grow your business.  From the Dealer Program enhancements mentioned above, to a new field team structure, to a dedicated Custom Integrator channel management team, to better communication, we want you to succeed and we’re going to do everything we can to help with that.

Please reach out to your Sonos Account Manager (formerly known as Regional Sales Specialist) with any questions.

Sincerely,

Joern Taubert, US Country Lead

Zack Kramer, US Marketing Lead



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Speakers · Loudspeakers · Wireless · Audio/Video · Distributed Audio · Outdoor AV · News · Reps · Sonos · Wireless Audio · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Charlie heritageavs.com on May 3, 2017

Hate it for the manufacturing reps. But its good for me. I think all the Gold dealers will be pleased. Free shipping and demo discounts is a step in the right direction. The margins are not as tragic as everyone states unless your buying through a distribution channel. I bet going direct now will be next to impossible without manufacturer reps out there calling on dealers.

Posted by Connected Living Inc. on May 2, 2017

Want me to sell more Sonos, let me have some skin in the game.  How about a round of financing which is open to Dealers?  They could tie the amount we could invest based on lifetime sales, years as a dealer or some other factor which allows long time devoted dealers to reap a some of the benefits of the inevitable sale?  I am pretty certain that if something like this were announced, it would completely change everyone’s perception of the brand and loyalty towards the channel.

Posted by TotalControlRemotes on May 2, 2017

First off, Nuvo is just as easy, if not easier to install for a consumer than SONOS is.  Anyone can buy one on Amazon.

Posted by hsydunski on May 2, 2017

Sonos is not an integration brand. Install Sonos and make money on everything else around it, just like TV’s. It’s called CUSTOM INTEGRATION. Be custom. My 80 year grandma can install a Sonos. I moved my “streaming” business to Nuvo a few months ago and never looked back. The P200 and P100 make more power than a Connect Amp, Sound better, I make more margin, oh….and I can CONTROL THEM with C4 through Device Discovery. They pop right up. Also had some success with Autonomic, but at a higher price, and now that Snap bought them…..I’m steering clear. Everyone quit complaining.

Posted by mark at combitech on May 2, 2017

I have looked at Sonos as best I could. Frankly it works and after doing years of free R&D for many companies out there the “works” factor goes far for me. A/V has changed so much in the last year that who really knows where we are headed. I hate the fact that Sonos pushes new product through their app…very cheesy but free shipping to direct dealer clients is a much welcomed addition. As for the rep, never saw him . Meanwhile if they want to take on the clients direct and create Sonos stores good luck, ask Sony how that went or B&O…..both are climbing back into the CI channel slowly. Bose still blows and I wouldnt be surprised if they open up the custom Bose channel again soon as they have been surpassed ....there are only so many wave radios you can sell to the cue tips.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on May 2, 2017

You called it first, SJM.

Posted by sjm mycloudbusters.com on May 2, 2017

Hmmmm…. As Apple latest model wants to dominate the consumer’s complete life, could this be a effort to clean up the channels in a pre-sale move? Apple has over $200B in lazy cash laying around. And this is a space all teh big gorillas are trying to wrap their hands around.

Time will tell.

Posted by theloopboise on May 2, 2017

I too do not understand how CI dealers could support a brand that is so anti-CI.  Yes, there is the opportunity for add-on sales, but why not offer other solutions?  We offered Video Storm, then Denon HEOS, and now Yamaha MusicCast, all of which have been very dedicated to our channel and deliver products and support for the CI channel.  Yes, Sonos has some cool features, but we always steer our clients to another product, unless absolutely critical they need Sonos.  I am excited that just this week we have two clients that were previous Sonos customers and are now using MusicCast and Control4 to deliver a better experience at a lower price.  At this point I clearly see Sonos as a competitor, trying to cut me out of the client relationship.  Until that changes I will gladly ride the coattails of Sonos’ marketing and bring those introduced to MR Music by Sonos to more advanced solutions that I can support.

Posted by HometechJohn on May 2, 2017

Not sure I blame them for eliminating the Rep Firms, after getting to know everybody what more do they have to offer??  Sonos has like 10 SKUs so training could not be the issue.

Like to see them take that extra 1 or 2 percent and create and East Coast Warehouse.

All this control system whining… Its like one Connect Player or two per household.  The cheapest SKU on their list besides the Play 1.  So makes more sense for Sonos to CARE about an internet client that wants 3 Play 3’s with the potential to buy more than our mega bucks client who will only buy one or two connect players.

Why not be mad at the Control Industry for not having better streaming players built by their companies than crying over Sonos not “meeting the industries demands”

For those that dont need an over reaching control system sitting on top of good sub systems, Sonos Connect Amp per room is a perfect audio system.

Last I checked Im making more per $100 on Sonos than ANY TV out there SANS OLED and we dont collectively whine so much about the TV industry giving them away and destroying any hope for margin.

Lastly, I understood that Apple required Sonos to tighten up the back door(same door older control interfaces operated through) before they would allow Sonos to offer Apple Music.  A MUCH bigger pull for Sonos than the tiny amount of Connects that would be sold.  IMO

Not happy about it all but I get it.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on May 2, 2017

Dealers to Sonos: I can’t quit you.

View all comments.

Posted by weddellkw on May 2, 2017

Ability to choose line-in as a source via Crestron integration ok thnks bai

Posted by dbendell on May 2, 2017

The lack of support for 3rd party is a real problem for Sonos. They are their own worst enemy. $3 grand free freight? [redacted] I can get TV’s for free freight on $1 grand, and most distributor’s now are free freight on all orders!
The lack of respect Sonos has for this channel is unbelievable.

Posted by jmcdermott1678 on May 2, 2017

I recently read a forum post from another Control4 dealer who attended a Sonos training specifically to ask about integration and to get their side of the story.  He was told by the Sonos rep, “they released their API (back in the fall or whenever. when the announcements were made) for control companies to integrate the entire Sonos functionality into their interface. Crestron, for instance, worked with them to create the whole Sonos app on their touchscreens for full fictionally. Control4 supposedly refused and declined to do the work, so Sonos doesn’t feel obligated to adjust their platform just for one control company when they’ve already created a solution”. 

First, it’s not “one company”.  It was all but Crestron, and I believe that was because Crestron had never back-doored a driver.  As usual though, they are passing the buck, pointing fingers, and think we are naive.  Based on Sonos’ history and other past quotes (laughing when asked if they would ever release their API), I don’t believe anything they say anymore…. well actually I don’t know if I have in the last five years.  Even if it’s true that they would release the API to drive their app on other manufacturers’ interfaces, is their ego that big that they really believe this is what everyone wants?  I want my client’s experience on their interface to be clean and uniform, which Control4 provides.  I don’t want them pulling up something completely different just so that Sonos can have their brand in their face.  Why they need this and cannot be satisfied with selling a ton more units through the CI channel, I will never understand.

Posted by brandenpro on May 2, 2017

I have never understood why CI channel dealers have supported this company.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on May 2, 2017

Dealers to Sonos: I can’t quit you.

Posted by HometechJohn on May 2, 2017

Not sure I blame them for eliminating the Rep Firms, after getting to know everybody what more do they have to offer??  Sonos has like 10 SKUs so training could not be the issue.

Like to see them take that extra 1 or 2 percent and create and East Coast Warehouse.

All this control system whining… Its like one Connect Player or two per household.  The cheapest SKU on their list besides the Play 1.  So makes more sense for Sonos to CARE about an internet client that wants 3 Play 3’s with the potential to buy more than our mega bucks client who will only buy one or two connect players.

Why not be mad at the Control Industry for not having better streaming players built by their companies than crying over Sonos not “meeting the industries demands”

For those that dont need an over reaching control system sitting on top of good sub systems, Sonos Connect Amp per room is a perfect audio system.

Last I checked Im making more per $100 on Sonos than ANY TV out there SANS OLED and we dont collectively whine so much about the TV industry giving them away and destroying any hope for margin.

Lastly, I understood that Apple required Sonos to tighten up the back door(same door older control interfaces operated through) before they would allow Sonos to offer Apple Music.  A MUCH bigger pull for Sonos than the tiny amount of Connects that would be sold.  IMO

Not happy about it all but I get it.

Posted by theloopboise on May 2, 2017

I too do not understand how CI dealers could support a brand that is so anti-CI.  Yes, there is the opportunity for add-on sales, but why not offer other solutions?  We offered Video Storm, then Denon HEOS, and now Yamaha MusicCast, all of which have been very dedicated to our channel and deliver products and support for the CI channel.  Yes, Sonos has some cool features, but we always steer our clients to another product, unless absolutely critical they need Sonos.  I am excited that just this week we have two clients that were previous Sonos customers and are now using MusicCast and Control4 to deliver a better experience at a lower price.  At this point I clearly see Sonos as a competitor, trying to cut me out of the client relationship.  Until that changes I will gladly ride the coattails of Sonos’ marketing and bring those introduced to MR Music by Sonos to more advanced solutions that I can support.

Posted by sjm mycloudbusters.com on May 2, 2017

Hmmmm…. As Apple latest model wants to dominate the consumer’s complete life, could this be a effort to clean up the channels in a pre-sale move? Apple has over $200B in lazy cash laying around. And this is a space all teh big gorillas are trying to wrap their hands around.

Time will tell.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on May 2, 2017

You called it first, SJM.

Posted by mark at combitech on May 2, 2017

I have looked at Sonos as best I could. Frankly it works and after doing years of free R&D for many companies out there the “works” factor goes far for me. A/V has changed so much in the last year that who really knows where we are headed. I hate the fact that Sonos pushes new product through their app…very cheesy but free shipping to direct dealer clients is a much welcomed addition. As for the rep, never saw him . Meanwhile if they want to take on the clients direct and create Sonos stores good luck, ask Sony how that went or B&O…..both are climbing back into the CI channel slowly. Bose still blows and I wouldnt be surprised if they open up the custom Bose channel again soon as they have been surpassed ....there are only so many wave radios you can sell to the cue tips.

View all comments.