In any sales rep agency, online marketing and communication is key to grabbing the customer’s attention. But live, in-person interaction is crucial to effectively keep their attention. COVID restrictions have paused all events and trainings that would typically foster better relationships. Our new normal doesn’t allow for the usual connections to be built in person. How do we stay connected to customers and clients while embracing social distancing rules and safe practices? With the end of 2020 quickly approaching, Western Lighting and Energy Controls reflects on how drastically different this year’s sales approach has become.
THE VIRTUAL LIVE: TRAINING, EVENTS, AND TOURS
We have embraced our screens to showcase our products and services. Free services such as FaceTime and Google Meet add a personal touch when you can see a friendly face behind it (cameras on, people!). More sophisticated programs such as Zoom, Microsoft Team, GoToMeeting, and GoToWebinar have helped streamline communication between multiple parties. The key to keeping people engaged is to utilize features such as chat, handouts, surveys, interactive breakout sessions, and hosting office hours.
TRAINING – There are certainly pitfalls when we shift from in person demonstrations to online, but that hasn’t stopped Western’s Residential Team from rising to the challenge. Over the last few months, they have set up a video production studio complete with greenscreens, professional lighting and recording equipment, multiple cameras, and post-production programs such as Camtasia.
Lutron RadioRA2 L1 virtual training
A silver lining to online training is the ability to change camera angles and use close-up shots of products. In our most recent Lutron RadioRA2 training, a 2-day course taught by Scott Stevens (shown above), we use a dollhouse to demonstrate Lutron controls programming. The close-ups give a clear, focused view of what the contractor will experience in the field with the products as we run through the computer programming. Conversely, an in-person demonstration might take longer as we need to allow time to pass products around the room or get trainees closer to the dollhouse.
A 2-day course is a lot of information to process, but on the bright side, Western Training Courses are recorded for attendees to review later at their convenience. The ability to replay training while reviewing notes and programming procedures is tremendously helpful. Proper online recordings are less likely to have as many audio/visual issues encountered in person, ie. speaker volume, mic feedback or background noise picked up, where the camera is set up so as not to disturb attendees.
EVENTS AND TOURS – Western loves to collaborate with dealers and manufacturers to host fun bonding events without the health risk. Virtual trivia nights, bingo, and wine-tasting events has allowed for us to relax together. When we combine it with showroom displays (as well as prizes to be won), it’s a foolproof way to casually engage clients while presenting key products in an application setting, resulting in a much more memorable function.
Ketra Showroom in Austin, Texas.
Alternatively, scheduling private virtual tours is increasingly popular for customers hoping for something more focused on their project’s unique needs. For example, Lutron’s Experience Centers are available by appointment to showcase different lighting and controls in both commercial and residential settings. Bringing that personal touch to virtual tours helps create a better experience with dynamic products.
ON DEMAND: LIGHTFLIX vs. YOUTUBE
Western Reps receive manufacturer training through online product presentations. They make an effort to show on camera, so we get a sense of its size, aesthetics, and key features. While some prefer product family overview, others opt for workshops that deep-dive into a specific product and its technical specifications. Many of these are live recorded and can be found in our Lightflix channel, Western’s on-demand library available for those unable to attend the scheduled sessions. Our educational content is available when you are available.
In addition, our YouTube channel has taken off thanks to our makeshift production studio as well as our collaborators. These informational videos are short and sweet, with our sales team getting personal with our samples and highlighting their key benefits. We use Adobe Creative Cloud (Premiere Pro, After Effect, and Photoshop) to edit and embellish our Expert Series video. We also have content in lighting and controls, best practices, and interviews with customers and manufacturers.
IS VIRTUAL OUR NEW REALITY?
Hopefully not – we certainly miss seeing unmasked faces that aren’t pixelated by the occasional WiFi lag. All jokes aside, the best products and services are moot if no one knows about them or can experience them. Developing creative and safe ways to stay connected during COVID has only furthered Western’s engagement with samples, presentation practices, and technical expertise. Videos developed during this time will still be useful resources to refer back to when we’re on the road again.
Currently, the team is recording a How To on shades, as well as Dimming Basics with Lutron. We are also working on a module series to cover a variety training topics. In the meantime, you can check out our Training Page to view upcoming virtual events. Stay tuned!
Western Lighting and Energy Controls is an employee-owned representative agency in Southern California partnering with top manufacturers in lighting, controls, and energy management. We don’t just go for the sale – we focus on YOU: making sure you have full understanding of the product(s) in question and their technical detail. Along with educational opportunities offered, we ensure your project requirements and unique business needs are delivered on time, within budget, and of top quality. Whether you’re in design, budgeting, or installation processes, our teams will make your life easier with our quality expertise and proactive customer support.
For more information, contact us here at Western Lighting & Energy Controls.