IPRO Annual Conference Yields Straight Talk on CE Business Realities
Consumer and professional electronics manufacturers representatives and manufacturers, numbering around 70, gathered in Scottsdale last week to implement strategic planning for business growth in 2015 and beyond, at the annual conference of the Independent Professional Representative Organization (IPRO.)
“IPRO has reached critical mass and we have grown 20% this year," IPRO President Dave Humphries said. "For continued success all of the organizations need to support each other. CEDIA and the CEA have continued to show strong support of IPRO. We are all in this together.”
IPRO hosted its usual impressive roster of industry insiders and experts, and they spent the next two days discussing with the attendees their ideas for best practices to improve growth and communication.
The Consumer Electronics Association’s Dr. Shawn DuBravac stated that CEA consumer research produces 30 studies a year and that, “consumer tech product cycles and the trends that we watch indicate consumer sentiment is holding up. Pent up demand from the recession has consumers purchasing vehicles and appliances as well and that is eating away at some of the CE consumer spending. 4K UHD is on track to sell 800,000 units by the end of the year.”
Darren Reaman, Director of Government Affairs for CEDIA shared a thorough and comprehensive overview of one of CEDIA’s most important member benefits. He outlined what CEDIA has been doing as he presented on understanding and influencing the effects of state legislation in the various markets.
As Bill Skaer put it, “Darren has the brain power of a human computer and is a rock star among lobbyists.”
Attendees were suitably impressed at the level of behind the scenes work that CEDIA does to support its members and ensure their ability to own and operate their businesses and make sure they are not impeded upon. CEDIA has stepped in many times and opposed legislation that would have adversely affected its members ability to do business. In 2014 alone, CEDIA has tracked 300 bills in 42 states.
“It is imperative that every IPRO member, CEDIA member and CEA member be aware of what legislation is being proposed in their own backyards and how quickly a bill that is proposed can pass and negatively impact their business. The importance of this cannot be overstated," one attendee said.
“Together with INFOCOMM, the CEA and other large organizations we work together to protect our members through legislation," Reaman said.
Dave Pedigo, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Learning & Emerging Technologies, keeps a close eye on emerging trends, threats and opportunities within the custom electronics channel, also gave a presentation. Bryan Shirley, who specializes in motivational growth of sales with proven new business opportunities instructed upon finding, tracking and closing new customers.
“Reps are required to do more work today, you have to change to compete and this is the reality, you have to become more efficient and carry the right lines," Shirley said. "We live on the Internet, get your website updated immediately and make sure you know what your competitors know…where they are and how they work."
When it came to the topic of tactics that are working, the Young Leaders panel had some good advice: They spend hours on the Internet doing research on what their clients need.
“Environmental factors have huge growth potential. For the homeowner, they don’t even blink because for them, shading, lighting and other energy saving technologies are a separate line item and are not even part of the AV budget," Kat Wheeler of Sapphire Marketing said.
When it came to the subject of how to hire the best people, Adam Owens of CET and Associates said, “we look for those with an entrepreneurial spirit that is oftentimes outside of our industry.” Countered Mike Pawlowski of Atlantic Integrated, “We continue to look outside of the box and have had success hiring men from the military. We have found they are disciplined and know how to listen. Which as a sales representative, that is key.”
Related story: Highlights from the 2014 IPRO Conference