In my experience if you ask sales people what they need to increase their sales they answer with one (or more) of these three items:
1. Lower prices
2. More leads (or floor traffic or its equivalent)
3. New products or services
When companies introduce new products they are often surprised at the resistance they get from sales people at selling these new products, especially if they are truly new. Herman Miller is finding that out. As I mentioned in a prior post, their CEO, Brian Walker, believes in innovation … even in a downturn. We commend him for this thinking. However, one of their key innovations involves a high tech wiring system call Convia which “…allows owners of office buildings, restaurants, and stores to radically save on their electric bills.” The product is apparently very cool and it really works … as it was designed to work.
Despite this the Herman Miller sales force “… accustomed to pitching Space Age desks and Japanese-inspired stools, is struggling to further penetrate the construction market. Buyers see the company as a furniture maker, not an electrical supplier.” This conundrum comes from two fundamental issues:
First, as stated, Herman Miller is not positioned as an electrical supplier. They do not have the credibility in this market and, they positioning as a furniture company might well be a negative. Second, most sales people are not comfortable selling new to the market products. Why this is true will be the topic of another post or a white paper (depends how long it turns out to be).
How is Herman Miller working to solve these problems? The partnered with French electrical distributor Legrand which is going to put the Convia “brains” inside their wiring systems. Great first step.