Sennheiser is targeting the burgeoning unified collaboration market for headsets with a type of competitor displacement promo which is a first for the company in North America in recent memory.
Audio solutions vendor Sennheiser has launched a competitive displacement program. Their new “Trade In & Trade Up” offers customers the opportunity to trade in old headsets from Sennheiser’s principal competitors – Plantronics and Jabra – in any condition With the purchase of either five or six Sennheiser headsets, depending on the model, they get a free headset in exchange for the old gear. It’s thus tantamount to a 16.67 or 20 per cent discount on new Sennheiser headsets.
While this kind of program is fairly common in the high-end headset market, it has not been something that Sennheiser has done in the past, at least in North America.
“It’s certainly the first time we have done something like this since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here since 2010,” said Michael Wyman, National Sales Manager, Enterprise Solutions at Sennheiser, who is the lead for their business in Canada. “Jabra and Plantronics have done them. I came up with an idea which I called ‘Upgrade to Awesome.’ It’s a ‘trade in and trade up’ promo where the emphasis is on the quality, of upgrading the old inferior headsets with Sennheiser premium audio technology.” While many Sennheiser resellers will be introducing the promo to their customers, Sennheiser is also reaching out directly to business customers of competitor products, who can initiate this program themselves, although they will need to engage an authorized Sennheiser reseller to buy.
Sennnheiser introduced the SDW 5000 Series a little over two months ago, as the high end of their unified collaboration line. It is designed for mobile, collaborative workplaces, and features a single headset system that connects seamlessly to multiple devices and interfaces for different use cases. A user could utilize a wireless DECT set while also connect a Bluetooth device to the same headset. It also features Super Wideband Audio, which provides frequency response between 100 and 11500 Hz, for extremely clear, life-like speech. Security features include 128-bit authentication keys, which provide an extremely high level of security encryption.
“The level of technology here compared to the headsets that will be traded in is amazing,” Wyman said. “It’s so much more sophisticated than the older equipment. The premium quality really does matter, because having perfect sound quality takes the stress and annoyance out of daily conversations.”
The unified collaboration market that the SDW series addresses is currently doing extremely well, Wyman stated.
“We are seeing an extremely rapid growth of unified collaboration deployments,” he said. “We track every opportunity, every platform we connect to. These platforms are now becoming prevalent.”
Some of the devices still in use are likely to be fairly old.
“The refresh cycle with headsets is very different than PCs,” Wyman said. “PCs become obsolete quickly because the technology changes very fast, and performance escalates as new chipsets are introduced. Headsets are different, because the technology doesn’t evolve as rapidly. The only reason you normally replace a headset is if it fails, and with a wireless headset, the battery is the most common point of failure. The batteries can fail after one or two years in some of the older competitor technologies, and with some of the devices, you can’t replace the battery, so you have to replace the headset. All our batteries can be replaced. Our headsets have a two-year warranty, but many are still in use after five years plus. In the eight years I’ve been in Canada, I have customers who are still using the same DW model that is now three generations old.”
Customers can trade-in Plantronics and/or Jabra DECT and corded headsets for a new Sennheiser SDW 5000 headset. If they trade in for new SDW 5015 headsets, for every five they purchase, they get one headset for free. For the SDW 5016 headset. They need to trade in six competitor devices to get one for free.
Customers who have bought Sennheiser before can also trade up in this program – but the deals aren’t as good. Existing Sennheiser customers who purchase 10 units of the new SDW 5015 get one SDW 5015 headset at no cost. For the SDW headsets, 11 are required.
“There are different kinds of promos in this space, including mail-in rebates,” Wyman said. “Jabra has one running now that gives cash in U.S. dollars for trading in old headsets. Our program is different because we aren’t in the business of cutting checks. The logistics aren’t manageable.”
Sennheiser doesn’t lead with price, preferring to sell a product that is designed and priced for the premium market.
“We always lead not by talking about the cost of headset, but the cost of ownership of the headset,” he stated. “With a two-year warranty and some models with three-years, we talk about the hassle-free cost of ownership.”
Wyman noted that Cisco recently brought out their own headsets into the market, but that this hasn’t impacted Sennheiser at all.
“The Cisco headsets haven’t affected anything,” he said. “At the end of the day, people buy a premium product because they want a premium product.”
The other big wild card in the market is the impact of Plantronics’ acquisition of Polycom, which just recently closed, and makes Plantronics much more than a headset maker.
“We believe it will be a year to 18 months before we see what the impact of that will be,” Wyman said.
“We are pleased with our own momentum. The reactive inquiries we are getting have been dramatically increasing on a month by month basis. People are reaching out for us. We are in 9 of 10 RFPs. We have had good success with a very aggressive demo program, where we send out a lot of qualified free samples, and have about a 90 per cent success rate on that.”
The Sennheiser Trade In & Trade Up program runs until December 31, 2018.