Why is it that of all the things I have ever bought - fast cars, nice watches, nice clothese, good food - it is the audio salesman that is the snootiest know it all snob of the lot. I don't adertise my knowledge of audio, which whilst not encyclopeadic, is not that of an idiot either. I recall calling up one supplier to just ask about a pulley for a turntable, and before you know it I got lectured about why DC motors are better than AC. I ended it saying that: I have an ongoing project; a very good battery powered DC turntable as well; two superb DC direct drives, and an idler drive project on the go. This isn't something to level at all people in audio, I found the guys from Absolute Sounds i nthe UK very approachable and enthusiastic - they weren't the 'audio snobs' I either feared or expected. Likewise it is lamentable that Les Wongs Walrus Systems is now defunct. But we all know the dealers and suppliers out there that are such idiots - bit like the 'haughty' french waiters of yesteryear. When I want to buy something specific, or if I was just enquiring I really do not expect, nor appreciate being spoken to like an idiot or a child, nor do I think it helps the industry when the people in sales think that you almost hae to be part of a kind of 'in the know club'. I would appreciate your thoughts on this
I wouldn't say that the majority of audio sales people are as you described, but there are certainly to many that are, although I would have to add rude to your observation of audio snob. Your right, and not alone on this one.
The used to chase me out of the store when they realized I couldn't afford to buy any of the gear they were pushing. Fortunately, a lot of those stores closed so we won't have to encounter that kind of 'Barney's' snootiness. Unfortunately, now they write for audio/hifi websites and magazines.
But that's painting with a broad brush and not true in general. Most salesman have given me time, attention, and wisdom in great disproportion to my subsequent investment. God bless 'em.
It's worse when you're treated to the snooty attitude by young junior salesmen when you knew more than they did before they were born, and whose exposure to music only extends to radio talk show jocks, Diana Krall and Jazz at the Pawnshop.
Hi randy - that's a good one. When I have spoken to both American and German Manufacturers - they are nothing but friendly, helpful, and amazingly enthusiastic. I know that it takes all sorts, but it may well be a bigger problem in the UK. Or is it just me being grass being greener on the other side?
You said speaking to both American and German Manufacturers, but I think most people here are discussing salesmen in retail shops.
Any good manf. will be chock full of engineers, hopefully analog EE's, digital ones, etc. and not an overload of manufacturing engineers (those are the ones who take decent products and make them cheaply). Tho that is not always a bad thing -- look at Oppo, which makes high quality disc players. I think only part of the prices they have is Chinese manf'ing. Some of it must be good circuit design maybe from their Silicon Valley stronghold.
But it will be a rare thing to find an engineer in a retail shop, nor should you expect that. The costs would be too high. OTOH, a retail shop worker should understand the need for A/B testing and for blind tests -- but few do.
In the UK there are fewer and fewer shops, and the manufacturrers and importers seem to bypass stores quite often - probably the reason I draw little distinction between importers, shops, and the manufacturers - it's all selling a product to me.
I've spent over 50 years of my life in 100% commissioned sales. I can't think of anything else I'd want to do for a living.
The job of the salesperson is to help the prospect get what the prospect wants first and foremost. This is done not by TELLING the prospect what's best for him/her, but by asking questions in order to best determine what their needs are, then showing the prospect how best to fill those needs.
I've seen audio salesmen, and even owners of audio stores be rude to their prospects by talking down to them, or by using technical jargon to the point where the prospect's eyes glaze over, at which point the prospect walks out the door totally confused without buying a thing. These are the, I won't call them salesman, I'll call them clerks or order takers, who eventually mastermind their way right out of business.
What does a prospect want to know when they walk into an audio store? Do they want to know about low distortion figures, capacitors, resistors, slew rates, etc? Nope, they just want to be able to reproduce decent music in the home at a price they deem to be a value for the money spent.
I've taught plenty of sales training classes in my time. One of the things I convey to new salespeople is this: In any given year, there are over 250,000 quarter-inch drill bits sold in the United States. Did the prospects want the drill bit, or did the prospects want a nice, clean quarter-inch hole?
It's not necessary to explain to the prospect the hardness of the steel of the bit, the manufacturing process to make it, how to fit it into the drill motor, or anything else. All the guy wants is a quarter inch hole ... so take the order for the drill bit, collect the money, and let the prospect go on his way.
For any owner of an audio store, or anyone acting as a salesperson in that store, I'd have one question for them, and that would be: "What business are you in?" If they answer: "the audio business," I'd turn around and walk out. This is the death knell of all retail businesses ... they are NOT in the audio business, they are in the PEOPLE business. Big difference. They are there to help people get what they want.
The big key in selling is to ask questions, get the customer's feedback, then guide the prospect through to a successful transaction. You know you've arrived as a salesperson when the prospect smiles and says: "Do you know what I like about doing business with you? You are totally low pressure and I always get my questions answered;" This, as he/she walks out the door with that brand new $30,000 preamp. :-)
I am an MD, was once employed by large multi-specialty clinic before I left & went into solo private practice , there was a big discussion about how to get good patient satisfaction. Having waited tables in my youth, I said select only employees who have waited tables because they understand customer satisfaction because if the don't, they don't last long (snooty French waiters need not apply)-somebody asked "what about the doctors?" I said "ESPECIALLY the doctors!" They thought I was an idiot. I'm not there anymore. I think it fits here as well.
A good approach from the sales perspective would be to ask your experience and knowledge in the audio field for yourself and then go from there and have humility. It's such a broad field I'd like to think I know a lot but there's a lot I don't know.
When I lived in NYC long age they would not deminstrate anything unless you told them you would buy it. I had a close relationship with the owner and suggested that I work there part time as he often ask me what was new in audio and bought a tonearm from me as he had never seen one. No he said, you will want to talk to people. His name has just appeard from the recesses of my mind. It was Russ B! PS One of his salesmen ask me why I changed exuiptment often as he had had the same things for years! This was in 1970