At ISE 2017, AV Manufacturers Say It’s A Small World After All

Some companies are adopting mostly universal methods of selling their products to North America, Europe and other worldwide markets.

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There are plenty of manufacturers who have changed the way they do business as more of their revenue comes from customers overseas. But not everyone does things differently, no matter whether they’re selling in North America, Europe or other parts of the world.

Peerless AV executive VP Nick Belcore says customers around the world “don’t want different things, but their definition of aesthetics is different, so they have different accent points.” For example, Peerless’ cart systems weren’t well-received in Europe so the company redesigned the entire line, he says. In addition, U.S. customers “drive the market” when it comes to displays.

One concession Peerless does make is with its sales team, ensuring those who sell overseas live in or near the region where they’re selling.

“A lot of companies try to send people over from the U.S. and Europe sees through that quickly,” says Belcore. “Making that move has changed the entire landscape for us.”

At Matrox, “our products have generally done well in both [the North American and overseas] markets,” says marketing writer Myles Carter. “We’ve done just as well in Europe as in the U.S. and Canada. We’re always trying to innovate and offer something stable with one feature set that works for everyone.”

The nature of working with Fortune 1000 companies has driven Multitaction to create products with worldwide appeal, says senior VP of global marketing Jonathan Priestley.

“The businesses we’re selling to are global anyway, so they don’t have tremendous differences in what they want and need no matter where they are,” he says. Most of the company’s clients are focused on areas like Big Data, visual collaboration, increasing productivity and employee engagement.

The biggest difference between North America and Europe, says Priestley, is on the sales side.

“Our U.S. customers will buy based on a recommendation from a trusted source, but in Europe, all that does is get you on a list,” he says. He agreed with Belcore’s assessment about needing to have people in Europe who know the area rather than trying to let the North American sales force handle those jobs.

“People want people who speak their own language when they’re talking about buying something,” says Priestley, noting Multitaction does about 60 percent of its business in the U.S.

Michael Peveler, VP of global sales at wePresent, says the company “doesn’t vary the technology significantly unless there’s a significant financial impact.”

“Selling a low-cost product will commoditize you,” he says.

Blackmagic is in a different position than other manufacturers in the AV chain, says Blackmagic Design head of EMEA communication Patrick Hussey.

“We’re a component that drives what customers see,” he says. “Our business is about volume. We’re not in the business of providing custom-made solutions.”

Biamp has what product manager Zach Snook calls “a pretty versatile product,” so “it doesn’t change in the core sense no matter where we sell it.” The company includes one power supply that works in both North America and Europe and the products have different product numbers to help with bookkeeping, he says.

At NEC, “we try to design products that can work in all markets,” says Keith Yanke, the company’s senior director of product marketing for large screen displays and projectors. “We’ve got more and more global customers so we have to make it easy for them to buy.”

Michael Vanderheeren, product manager for Barco’s ClickShare line, says the company generally tries to target North America, EMEA and China with its new releases. If they’re met with success and raves in those parts of the world, they get a more universal rollout, he says.

Paul Harris, CEO of Aurora Multimedia, learns a lot from his dealings with overseas clients and partners.

“Sometimes, hearing their point of view helps me in the American market,” he says.