The world is becoming smaller every day, but there are still some clear lines between what people in the U.S. and Canada want out of their AV and what those in other parts of the world deem necessary.
Many exhibitors at ISE 2017 say there are some subtle but important differences when it comes to selling their wares to North American customers and those in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world.
“One of the biggest challenges is with regards to IP streaming,” says Colin Farquhar, CEO at Exterity. “They’re engaging so many more disciplines and more sensitivity to their networks being accessed and the security risks (outside North America).”
Another major difference between North America and overseas is the fact there are so many more large integrators – and those of other sizes – in the U.S. and Canada. The biggest integrators in Europe have one or two locations, he says.
Exterity “invest[s] heavily in training our partners” and also provide “fairly extensive” consulting services, says Farquhar.
U.S. customers “tend to want greater specialization” in product offerings and use cases, says Michael Peveler, VP of global sales at wePresent. That’s probably because North American integrators are more focused on market segments rather than doing jobs in all verticals, as those overseas often do.
Mersive offers two-tiered distribution, says CEO Rob Balgley. Often, the company works with direct resellers in the U.S. and Canada but through distribution channels in Europe. Balgley has noticed its Solstice offering, which ranges in price from about $800 to $1,300, is more attractive to Europeans on the lower end of the price range, while those in North America tend to be less price-conscious.
Audinate has offered a two-level Dante certification course to its worldwide customers for the past six months, says VP of marketing Joshua Rush.
“It’s our responsibility to standardize,” he says. “The biggest difference is the structure of the channel. There are many more layers in Europe. U.S. manufacturers are closer to the network. Europe is inherently more complex since it’s made up of 55 separate countries.”
Although cultural differences and language barriers can be troublesome, finding customers around the world who are good fits for its themed entertainment offerings is the biggest challenge for Alcorn McBride, says director of sales Scott Harkless.
“We have to find someone interested in the niche we serve,” he says. “In North America, we’re able to do that ourselves. Abroad, we don’t always have the resources and have to rely on someone else and hope they’re looking for what we need them to find.”
Biamp has offered multilingual training sessions in its ISE 2017 booth this week and creates separate part numbers on its products geared for North American clients and those destined for overseas, says product manager Zach Snook. Biamp has one power supply that works with both North American and European power cords. Europe features in-country distributors who work with integrators, says Snook, while the sales teams sell directly to integrators in North America.
Wyrestorm CEO Derek Hulbert says people in the Middle East tend to be “more adventurous” than others around the world, saying “they jump on concepts quicker” than people in North America, for example.
“We want everyone to be the same, but it doesn’t work that way,” he says with a laugh. “Everyone just wants it to work out of the box the first time.” Customers in the U.K. focus on fewer brands, which means more overhead but often higher margins, while U.S. integrators carry hundreds of lines.
Although there aren’t many differences in NEC Display’s approaches around the world, Keith Yanke, senior director of product marketing for large screen displays and projectors, says the company sells an interactive tabletop unit in Europe but has no plans to offer it in North America at this point because there seems to be a lack of interest in those types of products.
Steve Seminario, VP of product marketing at Planar Systems, says the company sold its products through about 350 integrators in North America, but have found far fewer integrators across EMEA. In addition, the integrators in Europe and beyond work “across hard geographical lines,” he says.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll hear from some of the manufacturers at ISE 2017 who say their approaches to selling don’t change in North America and other parts of the world.