D&H Touts End-to-End Services at Fall Show
Partner enablement beyond the “sell” was the overarching theme promoted at distributor D&H’s Mid-Atlantic Fall Technology Trade Show, held Oct. 26 at the Hershey Lodge near the company’s Harrisburg, Pa., headquarters.
The company showcased wares from more than 100 vendors in both traditional tabletop settings as well as category-themed pavilions – “vendors participating in different types of real estate,” Mary Campbell, vice president of marketing, told Dealerscope. “To the eye, it’s intriguing and interesting, and gives the show a little more diversity than just walking up and down rows.
“But the show doesn’t stop here,” said Campbell. “We always ask dealers about their needs. Our idea is that when dealers leave the building today, they’ll also have the tools through our Partner Services program that will help them talk to their customers and make them the experts. We perpetuate [the show] with credit, and also things like webcasts, that just keep the momentum going all year long.
“When you look at the trainings at our shows,” Campbell continued, “its an interesting dynamic. We’ve gone from being a selling show to being more of a training show – but that’s so our customers can sell better.” She said there is special focus on more end-to-end training and follow-through.
And the same follow-through care is taken when adding vendors or categories, she added, “We like that role – we put our toe in the water first because our customers trust us. Before they jump into the pool, we’re going to test the water. That’s why we’ll sometimes give a little extra scrutiny on what we’re going to steer them to, because we know they’re going to follow us in.”
Part of this Fall exhibition was the third iteration of D&H’s Gaming Experience area, which has been refined in presentation with each biannual show. “We’ve grown it each time, and changed the layout each time to accommodate more people,” Campbell said.
But D&H also added a Connected Home & Office Solutions area for the first time – which André Lalande, senior director of home entertainment, who came to the company in mid-2017 having worked in service to the CEDIA channel for 15 years, said was an overture to bring knowledge and understanding of the connected-home category to D&H customers, who cater to a broader, more mainstream market.
“It is a very large growth segment in the industry and one that D&H definitely wants to go after with our retailer partners,” he said. The area featured an Alexa-enabled platform and sponsoring vendors including Linksys/Belkin, Westinghouse, EZVIZ, Emerson Electric, NetGear and Neato. “It’s a great first step for us, demonstrating the wide assortment of solutions we have for our customer base. It’s meeting our expectations that we had set out for our first time doing it… At one time, it was necessary to explain to people what lighting control was. That’s not the case any more, because there’s so much ubiquitous product out there. With the area, we’re telling a story of a day in the life of your family room or a home office being controlled by voice, and letting dealers see how everything connects. Everything is live and working in this area; nothing’s static. It has to be shown that way.”
“The category is being presented as a showpiece, presented more holistically,” said Campbell. “It’s part of what we’re doing better – part of having more of that end-to-end… That’s where our sales and specialist teams get to walk our customers through something, make sure they understand everything and maybe refer them to our online trainings. And once you have them there, and train them, keep touch and continue helping.”
Both Lalande and Campbell sensed what Lalande termed as a “cautious optimism” among dealer attendees at the show. About the Amazon effect on businesses, Lalande said that while dealers will “always be worried about Big Brother, they’re coming here, seeking new ways of expanding their businesses and being trained by trusted partners like D&H.”
“Retailers have to be adaptable and flexible,” Campbell added. “They need to evolve – but selectively – they have to be smart about it. The storefront’s not dead if the experience is still there. That’s really where we are. Our customers’ uniqueness is the storefronts. It’s difficult on the retail front but it’s still a simple answer – get them in the store. So we just have to continue to help retailers do that, helping them to evolve the in-store experience. You don’t get that completely online. Champion the service model – there will always be business there. No matter how big Amazon grows, so does the opportunity.
“The quality of the conversation between vendors and dealers is continuing,” said Campbell. “Engagement and training are happening here, instead of just, ‘What is your deal?’ That’s been the vision of our shows and we want that to continue – and we’re building the resources in the organization to that end. That’s not easy for every company to do. It’s about having the right people.”