If you had asked retailers in January of this year if they’d be selling many spas over FaceTime or Zoom, you would’ve gotten some confused looks. But now, dealers are considering adding these tools to their long-term sales strategy.
“We’re still doing virtual selling, not as much as we were, but it’s still part of our mix,” says Don Riling, owner of Olympic Hot Tub, with seven locations in the Seattle metro. Riling says all retailers must learn and sharpen the necessary skills to sell virtually in case anything causes interruption in the future.
Jim Johnston, vice president of marketing at Marquis, says some of his dealers, depending on the area, have largely returned to in-person business as usual, but that some are at a 300% increase in sales over last year and still haven’t opened showroom doors. “They’re still selling off of private appointments, Zoom meetings and FaceTime,” he says. “It’s an interesting new dynamic.”
Bullfrog Spas moved quickly to help its dealers navigate the virtual selling space, crafting new ways for dealers to do online sales presentations, such as the ability to guide a presentation while talking to a customer on a phone, says Jake Ricks, director of marketing. He likens it to PowerPoint, “but it is self-guided and a lot better experience,” he says. In addition, Ricks says Bullfrog improved its video conferencing, phone sales and business over SMS.
Like all sales techniques, selling virtually takes training and practice. Fortunately, over the past several years, Jacuzzi was already putting some of these pieces in place to help dealers, such as online trainings, says Ashley Field, director of sales training for Jacuzzi. “That really helped us during this pandemic,” she says, “because we had a way to reach everyone quickly.”
The company turned its PDF brochure into a website and put together a script to help retailers navigate the experience. “As a sales associate, you could either direct a customer to the website over the phone, or best practice is Zoom so you still get that face-to-face connection, and pull up this brochure, much like you would in a showroom,” Field says. The sales script directed the salesperson to click on certain videos and links as they went through the presentation. “So when you click on the pump for Jacuzzi, it brings up the heritage video to explain the importance and relevance of that Jacuzzi pump to our industry as a whole. We are recreating [online] experiences that you would normally do in the showroom.”
Though the first run-through was clunky for most, Field says it ended up being an asset for their retailers. “With this script, the how-to video and the brochure link, we set everybody up for success so they could take that and run with it, whether it was over the phone, or through Zoom or FaceTime,” she says. “Even the messenger app on Facebook, there were a lot of people reaching out through social.”
While some are hoping the days of Zoom will soon be in their rearview mirror, Riling sees virtual selling as a way to reach a new type of hot tub buyer.
“That demographic is used to buying everything online,” he says. “We have a golden opportunity to stretch our demographic into the 30-year-old range and continue to virtually sell or use Facebook to sell to these customers.”