Hamilton partially credits a previous boss for whom he sold newspaper advertising with developing his strong dedication to preparation. This boss took pleasure in putting Ham on the spot with tough clientele, and as a result Ham developed a habit of getting his ducks in a row before approaching any client.
The next installment of Harry Klane’s profile of Ham Brosious has more stories, lessons and ideas for business success: coming soon to Industry Business.
Relationships, Relationships, Relationships
Nothing is more important to a salesperson than the relationships he or she forges. This was the crucial element that kept my father’s small town shoe store running year after year. By developing a level of trust, and each successive year continuing to advance that investment, both sides reap continuing rewards for as long as the manufacturer and retailer continue to focus on the market. Hamilton’s years at Scully, and as the largest MCI dealer in America, provided him with unparalleled access to the people who built the bedrock of our industry. Both companies were bucking the status quo within their respective markets. Hamilton and the brands he represented took full advantage of their upstart status and aggressively plumbed the market at a grass root level.
In the 60’s the studio market exploded. The new owners lacked the technical training of the record company or broadcast engineers who could build their own mixing consoles. They were in a hurry to start billing hours and cutting tracks, not spending hours, days and weeks going from one dealer to the next, perhaps ordering some key elements through a regional representative or even direct from the manufacturer. Hamilton and his Audiotechniques partner Robert Berliner spotted this trend and were able to capitalize on it because they knew so many end users and manufacturers. They utilized their experience and wide ranging networks to form a studio selling machine that took prospective clients in one end and produced a full studio, with wiring, patch bays, effects, and monitors out the other.
The value Audiotechniques added by streamlining the entire process increased their importance to the marketplace, allowed the company to reach the highest sales levels of that time. MCI became the centerpiece of this pioneering effort in systems integration, because it manufactured the two largest capital equipment investments for a professional studio, and the most critical ones operationally (tape recorders and mixing consoles). With easy-to-assimilate equipment packages that sounded as good as, if not better than, more expensive competitors, MCI became a market leader.
All along the way, Hamilton and his co-workers were increasing their known universe. All the “new comers” getting into the “recording business” would have to contact Audiotechniques for some piece of equipment which was sold by them exclusively. At one time or another this list included Lexicon, Allen & Heath, Audio & Design, and a full line of ancillary products including equipment cleaners, cue boxes, direct boxes, etc. This straddling of traditional roles is Ham all over. His marketing abilities were honed after many years in other sales oriented jobs for newspapers, broadcasters, etc. He understood first-hand the self-imposed limitations businesses commonly placed on their own success. He and Bob fought back with innovative products and marketing. They found new manufacturers mainly in Europe and the US to keep increasing the scope and performance of this web of knowledge.
Hamilton always promoted a close relationship with manufacturers. His work with MCI and then, after their purchase, with Sony Professional Audio in the 70s through to the early 90s, defines the way a sales team should operate. This was also the case with companies like Lexicon and Eventide: Audiotechniques took them on just after their inception, and saw the relationship through good times and bad. Ham was instrumental in keeping the manufacturer in the loop with the market because of his past and present experiences. Their respect for his opinions, which were, more often than not, correct, helped these companies create significant value for the market.
The other key to relationship investment is having the right people on your sales team to process these opportunities. Ham kept people for as long as possible, but always had his eyes open for new talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Audiotechniques’ alumni in each major segment of our industry, all still applying lessons learned during their time with Hamilton.