The Art of Tele-Consulting
Maverick Integration says it’s different than most CE pros because it listens to its clients and does what it promises.
Remember how “maverick” became a buzzword for John McCain’s presidential campaign? It culminated with Tina Fey (as Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live”) spoofing its overuse: “We are not afraid to get mavericky in there.”
That term, “mavericky,” actually does describe Maverick Integration‘s approach to custom electronics.
The integration company isn’t afraid to “get mavericky” either: “We call up our clients and ask them if they’re interested in something — like an Apple TV. Talking about that $300 box sometimes turns into a $10,000 upgrade,” says Dennis Jaques, president.
That bold but strategic approach doesn’t encompass all the reasons for the Waltham, Mass.- and Bedford, N.H.-based company’s success. There’s also:
An engineering-like approach to documentation that “from proposal to installation is comprehensive to the point of absurdity.” That level of detail, Jaques says, gives installers a tremendous advantage and leads to happy clients.
A gung-ho commitment to completely understanding what a general contractor does on projects that has led to long relationships with builders, architects and designers — and even to some consulting — according to Jaques.
A philosophy of listening carefully to customers, which seems trite but Jaques says is a lost art among CE pros.
- Location: Bedford, N.H.; Waltham, Mass.
- Principals: Dennis Jaques, president
- Revenues (2008): $5.5 million
- Years in Business: 6
- Number of employees: 22
- Residential/Commercial Split: 85%/15%
- Specialty: Residential automation
- Top 5 Brands: Crestron, Lutron, B&W, Rotel, Runco
- FYI: Follow up, follow up and more follow up.
We’ll get to those other reasons, but let’s explore this Apple TV thing.
Twist on Telemarketing
It’s more like tele-consulting. While it might seem odd for a CE pro to systematically call clients and pitch products, that’s kind of what Maverick does. “It’s not really a leap,” Jaques explains. “It is just a continual evolvement, something you can only do if you have a relationship [with the client].”
The idea of calling up clients to check on their systems isn’t new, but Maverick’s approach goes beyond typical customer relationship management (CRM). It starts with a list of existing clients on an Excel spreadsheet. Next to each client’s name is a date around which Jaques should next call them. Next to that are some discussion points.
Jaques notes what the client’s home was wired for but wasn’t installed. “We also go back and review the systems that the client cut out of their contract the first time around. If you know there was a prior interest that was value-engineered out of the job, it’s up to the sales team to re-approach those topics from time to time with the client.”
All of Maverick’s clients receive these calls. “I can’t think of one that shouldn’t be called,” Jaques says. However, every call is approached differently.
Tom has been covering consumer electronics for six years. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Now, as senior writer/technology editor of CE Pro magazine since 2003, he dabbles in all departments and offers expertise in marketing. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org
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