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.
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.
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.
Joern Taubert, US Country Lead
Zack Kramer, US Marketing Lead