Plantronics Switches Out Meetings for a Mobile Tour
Oh, you hipsters with your iPods, all lost in thought in your skinny jeans, listening to some band out of Finland no one’s ever heard of before. Think the world’s leading manufacturer of headset products can’t rock the ‘Pod like a Williamsburg trust fund baby? Think again, home slice. Plantronics in March 2007 dumped its six-meetings-per-year reseller training strategy and launched its first-ever 42-market tour. The little listening device with a big following was combined with a solid experiential plan to showcase the brand’s products in a way it’s never done before. The result? Forty-four percent sales lift after the events. Here’s how they rocked it:
Of the 74 million cubicle dwellers with telephones, only seven percent were using headsets. To move the needle, the tour showcased the brand’s sound quality by delivering hands-on, interactive training experiences for every player in the purchase funnel—all without having to leave the comfort of their corporate campus. Channel partners like Corporate Express and Office Depot made up the key demo while end-user gatekeepers like procurement specialists played a close second.
The vehicle of choice was a 44-foot gooseneck trailer tricked out with 16-foot hydraulic slide outs that gave the mobile unit an additional 128 square feet of interior space. Wireless products were grouped by family and displayed to appeal to each target’s specific needs. A 200-square-foot classroom held up to 16 attendees and featured a 65-inch plasma TV and Altec Lansing surround sound system. Resellers extended the value of the training experience by inviting their customers into the Sound Coach for afternoon open houses.
Trainees kicked off the day by grabbing an iPod Nano, putting on a set of Altec Lansing ear buds (which they got to keep) and embarking on a 20-minute self-guided audio tour. After a short intro, the audio guided attendees to click through each of 22 pre-programmed tracks and check out each corresponding display. The recordings encouraged attendees to touch and interact with each product and accessory. The audio tour wrapped up with a challenge: Guess a mystery sound correctly and enter to win an iPod speaker system. Sound Coach staffers collected the iPods and ushered attendees into the classroom for a 10-minute training video presented on the big daddy plasma, and then they were free to go. Self-directed, brand-immersive, highly interactive, and dare we say, pretty darn hip for a headset company. This was definitely not your grandma’s preachy PowerPoint channel sales training experience.
The innovation paid off. One hundred percent of the resellers predicted they would see a boost in sales within three months, 1,500 channel partner sales reps were trained (versus 300 from the previous year), and 4,000 gatekeepers and targeted end-users engaged with the tour.
“Both from cost per rep trained, number of reps trained and impact on the business, the value has been significant,” says Chuck Yort, vp and general manager-b-to-b solutions at Plantronics. “What was just a reseller training vehicle has become an end-user education and loyalty-building opportunity.”