Sell the Whole Experience
It's time to get back to the classic home theater demonstration
By Steve Caldero
Recently, my doctor—your average guy interested in upgrading his home theater—related to me his experience at a local big box retailer.
"I had a really bad experience trying to purchase a 50-inch EDTV plasma," he said.
"There's no such thing," I told him. "You can buy a 42-inch EDTV plasma, but not a 50-inch."
"Yeah," he replied. "I found that out, so they made me buy HD."
His borderline bitterness astounded me. He was unhappy about having to purchase the highest-quality display on the market.
Since money is no object for this man, I could only wonder what the cause of his bitterness was.
It all came down to the impersonal and negative buying experience.
At most stores, no one takes the time to find out the customer's specific needs. And in this case, no one got him excited about his purchase—let alone explained to him that he got the best of displays.
Specialty retailers like Ken Crane's have the unique opportunity to get customers excited about the entertainment options available to them. Yes, everyone wants to talk about price. And yes, thanks to the internet, customers think they know more than the sales staff does—and in most cases, that's true.
But the customer still wants to feel good, if not outrageously excited, about making the right purchase for his or her needs.
This is where independent retailers have value: in maximizing the consumer experience.
People say audio sales are down because there's been no real innovation in audio. I don't buy that argument. The problem is that during these gold-rush years of selling flat-panel displays at high prices, we've slipped out of the habit of doing classically good home theater demonstrations.
It is the specialty retailers' sales staff's job to engage and excite the customer, but in order to do so, they must be provided the tools, reinforcement and motivation to succeed.