Binghamton, N.Y. - In eliminating 10 of 18 independent rep companies and expanding its in-house sales team, McIntosh Laboratory adopted a sales and marketing approach typical of luxury brands outside the CE market, global sales and marketing VP Linda Passaro said.
"Cost is not a part of it. Strategically, it's the right thing to do," said Passaro, who has worked for such luxury brands as Montblanc and Longines. Factory-direct employees can be focused on a single brand rather than multiple brands, turning them into "brand ambassadors" who "have the time to work in the stores with their staffs to improve sales," she said. The factory-direct staff will have "greater job responsibilities than indirect employees can provide," including merchandising the brand and developing marketing programs with dealers, she continued.
In addition, factory-direct salespeople will be able to visit dealers more often and accelerate two-way communication, helping McIntosh "see how our products are playing out in the market," Passaro said.
The rep companies who were kept on will "be asked to perform the same quality of store visits," Passaro added.
The reps who were let go were not cut because of performance, Passaro stressed. Instead, their territories were targeted for a direct approach because their demographics offered the highest growth potential for the brand, she explained.
Under the new sales approach, the company hired three regional managers, positions that the company previously did not have. Each regional manager is responsible for his own territories and report to existing sales directors Marc Lamb and Chris Smith, who now assume direct account responsibilities in addition managing the three regional managers and managing McIntosh's remaining rep companies.
Previously the company's sales directors did not travel to stores, Passaro noted. "Dealers of our caliber expect to have quality people from the factory at their stores."
Said McIntosh president Charlie Randall," We are confident that we will be able to partner and listen even more closely to our valued retail customers, providing continued best-in-class service."