The Wire

Who is the better salesman?

By Clay Hankins

Just recently, I was bidding on a job against a local Dallas home theater outfit for a fairly small theater room job. The client was the kind that liked doing his homework (my favorite kind) and enjoyed talking about equipment choices and discussing the reasons why I recommended what I did for his home theater. He was pretty knowledgeable about what he wanted, what his budget was, and was looking to me mostly for direction. When the subject of screen choice came up, I had recommended a very reasonably priced white screen from Severtson ? a great screen company with excellent quality and value (and a screen company that makes screens for many major motion picture theaters.)

The sales person from the other company had recommended a Screen Innovations Black Diamond screen. A screen that was three times the price of the Severtson, but more importantly, the wrong screen choice! Now, don't get me wrong, the Black Diamond is a great screen from a great company, but what makes it the wrong choice in this particular job is that the homeowner had a dedicated theater room with no outside light interference and complete control of interior lighting in the room. And although a Black Diamond will work in those conditions, its strong point is enabling the viewer to raise the lighting conditions and still have a very viewable image. So, you're the homeowner, what do you think? Did you spend more (a lot more, actually) for something you didn't need? What would you tell your friends? Is the sales person that's the most effective the one that "adds" to the ticket price, or the one that sells you the right thing for what you need at a much less expensive price?

I guess how you answer that depends on your approach to sales. For the other company, a higher ticket means better profit and more commission. For us, not overselling means long term relationships with clients based on trusts. I want our client coming to us because they know we won't do that to them. In short, I want them back.

I can't bring myself to sell someone a product they don't need, just to sell them on something more expensive. Clients come to us for guidance and trust because we are the supposed experts in the field. Could you imagine going to your physician and having him recommend a major surgery that a minor surgery would have been just as effective?

So, as you think about what you want for your home theater, give some serious thought to the products being pushed your way. In the example above, there are clear cases where the Black Diamond would have been the right screen to use, but not this one.

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