Remote home control system on a digital tablet.

As you may have seen in the news or on social media recently, big box stores have begun to hire sales teams and are training them to become field representatives to sell many of their products and services which include Home Control, A/V, and Security.  These deep-pocket companies believe that having sales personnel who can demonstrate these technologies and help build the system that is the best “fit” for the customer will increase the sales of devices and services.

A leading online seller has decided to concentrate their program on “smart home consultations.” During these presentations, customers can test the vendor’s proprietary voice-controlled device and see how it interacts with other home control devices such as thermostats, light controls, door locks and security cameras.  Along with selling the technologies to the customer, the consultants can also arrange for installation services that the customer can purchase along with the devices. Currently, the program is only available in six cities, with more to follow.

Another point of interest which seems to be a recurring theme within these programs is that they offer free repeated home visits to assist customers in learning to use their systems. Additionally, they also offer their own type of service agreement that provides for in-home repairs, tech support and installations as well. According to reports, there is the anticipation that these in-home sales and installation programs will increase the sales of extended warranties on the products sold. While the sale of extended warranties currently makes up a small percentage of overall annual sales for big box sellers, these extended warranties do provide high-profit margins.

Another interesting twist lay in the fact that the in-home salespeople will be paid either by salary or hourly wage and not by sales commissions.  This approach changes the customer/sales company dynamic because salespeople can present products and technologies without having to pressure the customer into buying something immediately.

You shouldn’t need a crystal ball to see how the entrance of these large volume retailers could affect the future of the residential home control & smart home marketplace in the near future. To thrive in this highly competitive market space, low-voltage contractors will need to train their field personnel thoroughly. It may also be a good idea to equip the sales team with demonstration equipment that they can quickly set up in a customer’s home to help them decide what and how many devices/services they desire.  Salespeople will need to take a consultative approach while low-voltage companies will need to up their game regarding in-home visits after installations are completed to ensure that end-users are getting the full benefits available from the technologies that they have purchased.

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