PARA used its 20th annual conference to unveil a revamped Intranet site and new training programs to help members run their operations more effectively.
The training programs include the Counselor Selling Program, developed by consultant Werner Berger to improve the quality of selling in a store, and a seminar targeted to retail buyers.
The association also outlined a partnership with start-up KnowledgeLINK to help A/V retailers gain visibility on the web. The KnowledgeLINK web site could also be used by retailers, if supplier permission were obtained, to sell online to consumers in their market area, although PARA didn’t officially endorse participation in this portion of KnowledgeLINK’s program.
PARA’s revamped Intranet site has evolved over two years and incorporates a 2,200-SKU database of products available from 70 of the association’s member suppliers. It also features a training and testing program for salespeople, consultant listings, a standard chart of accounts, cost of doing business information, and an expanded library that includes how-to articles.
With the site’s product database, members will now be able to search for products by price point, manufacturer and model, get a description of the product’s features and benefits, and display front- and rear-panel pictures of products to talk customers through operation and hookup.
An advanced search enables salespeople to call up products by size to determine if they will fit in customer’s cabinets. Discontinued products are also included. The site also provides multiple-choice tests on general features and benefits and on the features and benefits of specific models. Salespeople can go online to take the test and see their results, although they are blocked from seeing other people’s results.
PARA’s Counselor Selling Program is intended to move salespeople from a "telling" mode to an "ask and discover" mode to determine a customer’s needs and provide advice that adds value to a product sale, consultant Berger told attendees. "The salesperson as a talking brochure doesn’t cut it anymore."
The two-part program, scheduled for June 10-14 in Chicago in partnership with CEMA, is intended for owners, sales managers and store managers. PARA’s retail buyers’ seminar, scheduled for June 25-27 in Chicago, includes such topics as how to focus a product mix, choose products that drive a category, increase turns to free up cash flow, and generate reports needed to budget, forecast, order and track sales.