$300k Sony Manufacturer Rep Doing Demos And Dealing Direct To End User

I registered a $300K project with Sony (and Anixter) and for the most part we installed Sony PTZ's and several domes, total of 45 cameras. We also spec'd and sold 20 Axis 5MP cameras because Sony didn't have a 5MP offering.

Now I find out that the Sony manufacturers rep was in the customer's office doing demos and dealing direct with them unbeknownst to me. I felt betrayed as they used the project I brought to them and are now selling direct to the end user. Maybe it was initiated by my end user but I still feel that the manufacturer/rep company I gave the information to should have at least contacted me about it. I called the rep firm and asked them about this end around and they backtracked saying 'our job is to bring our company product lines to our customers'....Lesson learned -->No more Sony camera sales for me, they're overpriced and losing market share anyway.

Absolute BS and going forward I will register no projects with distributors or manufacturer rep companies. I advise you do the same if you want to reduce the risk of this happening. What do you get anyway? 3-5 points? That's not enough to make or break winning a project, if it is, you're just a public bid house.

NOTICE: This comment was moved from an existing discussion: Has An Axis RSM Ever Brought In a Competitor Integrator Into One Of Your Customers?


Mark, Sony is selling direct or direct via a distributor? I ask because you mention Anixter in the first line.

Absolute BS and going forward I will register no projects with distributors or manufacturer rep companies. I advise you do the same if you want to reduce the risk of this happening. What do you get anyway? 3-5 points? That's not enough to make or break winning a project, if it is, you're just a public bid house.

Not going with Sony, and not registering any projects with them would be more than fair. However, most manufacturers I know, would never ever do anything like that, on big projects and small. This also applies to the reps firms, us as a distributor and most of our competing distributors.

Manufacturers quite often skip the interrogators on larger projects, and go either through distributor only or even direct, but that only happens in absence of a project filed by an integrator.

Seems like you would have some kind of contract as a distributor that you could read through and possibly have a cause of action.

A real estate agent once told me - "You can't force someone to do business with you, but you can make them wish they did"

Mark,

Find a comparable product to the Sony cameras and offer it to your customer. You can't stay competitive cost wise against Sony but you could offer another product with similar features and warranty and a lower price, might be enough to stay a part of future projects. Flex the IPVM Camera Comparison Tool.

I have had it happen to me as well, with another manufacturer. Needless to say, we stopped supporting them in any way. It only takes one of these to figure out we are all in the information business.

NDA and design fees are appropriate.....

I've been at this for 25 years. I have a standing rule. Never invite a manufacture, manufactures rep or supplier to visit your customer until you're certain you're going to sell there product to that customer. The benefits don't outweigh the trouble they can cause either intentionally or unintentionally.

I've never been dumb enough to give a distributor or manufacturer actual customer information til customer has a contract with me and has paid. I always use a code name for the project and be as vague as possible.

Love the Code Name Idea!

Will they still let you register it as a project without customer information? I know when I dealt with Axis it seemed like a pretty substantial discount when I registered it with them, but they did require Customer name and such. Granted this was a few years ago, and maybe I was just naive and gave it to them without thinking, haha. Nothing went wrong, but still.
As a MR rep- I would and have never taken a project direct to a manufacturer. In fact my largest end user deal over $1.5 mil- begged to be taken direct and we as a reputable MR rep told them the business had to be purchased via reseller partner. The Manufacturer backed us in this decision after- a bit of persuasion. The key is working with Ethical MR reps that will represent your interests as equally as the Manufacturers that we represent.

This comment was supposed to be replied to a different comment, my appologies! Not sure what happened. Delete?

can someone leak^^^^post a sample of this "registration" process? It would be interesting to know if there's fine print that allegedly protected one side or the other. This or any other vendor. Try to be nice and not violate an NDA or copyright but... how about a little journalistic muscle here, ipvm?

Here's Arecont's project registration form.

In general, I don't think there is legal protection for a manufacturer not to sell direct or talk to customers direct, etc. It's a matter of negotiation and feel to minimize such conflict.

I believe when we register a project with Samsung's STEP partner project registration there is a 2 year NDA for the project the manufacturer's rep and Samsung's RSM sign along with our signature. I haven't seen anyone else do that including Sony. They (Sony) are on a kick right now to register a project with only 1 distributor along with only 1 integrator for some reason this year.

One of the first things I was taught in this industry by my Dad was never to do walkthrough with them or give your client names out to your Manufacturer. They get some idea in their brain where they think your clients are their clients. That's not ok!! I know when our client ask us for our recommendations and advice, they trust us, not the Manufacturer. Clients can see right through salesman's BS. Generally we are pickup by referrals and who have done their homework and know about us before even step foot on the walkthrough. Clients know if you know what you are talking about. The key word is Trust. If your client doesn't trust you, then what in heck is your value to the customer then?

Now it's one thing when it's a Fortune 100 company who needs 5000 cameras and they more are capable installing and servicing the cameras themselves. I'm all for those kind of deals going direct to the end user. Also, there are some Govt. agency deals where we act as a pass-through for the Manufacturer which is up to them. Now if the Manufacturer or Distributor brings me the deal, then I will buy everything I possible can from them and it is their deal, not mine.

I understand that some Manufacturers have been burned by Integrators making their product look bad by a terrible install. Trust is a two way street, so when we partner with one, I know they trust us to make it work.

I am confused by the original post. Is the $300K project yet to come, or is that the 45 + 20 cameras you already sold the end user? So the Sony MR was there for future business?

From what you write, it sounds like the MR did an end run on you. Sony may have no idea their independent MR is doing this. You might want to have a chat with the Sony RSM who covers that area. We don't use MRs currently, but as a manufacturer I would certainly want to know if one was doing such a thing with my products. We dance with who brung us.

I would probably go with Keefe Lovgren's suggestion in this thread to switch the end user away from Sony and toward another product line that would meet their needs.

And good luck to the MR if they are successful selling direct -- who is going to provide installation, service, and integration to the VMS?

I have to say having the manufacturer as part of the process can close deals as well.

One of my best was just the offer of stopping by and discussing over lunch made the close between integrators and manufacturers. The integrator called me back 10 minutes later after trying to schedule with a comment "no need to visit, the customer decided that if we have that close a relationship with the manufacturer he'll go with us. I'm driving over to pick up the agreements".

I have been around in the aftermath of a disaster manufacturer visit by a competitor as well. He is on my Christmas card list.

An ethical manufacturer is a combination of the field person AND the actual company as they share databases. I have seen VP's go around sales people to the customer WITH another integrator.

I know several very ethical manufacturers sales people and a few that aren't. I won't name any of them because the integrator has to have the relationship with them or it's worthless. Ask if they will share anything confidential about another project or dealer. If they do, you will be next. If they don't, respect that and them.

It's a shame that seemingly you were never informed,

however, are you sure it's not the manufacturer trying to do some demand creation and locking the deal in for the distribution channel and therfore you?

"dealing direct" would be a worry for the distribution channel also, have you informed your local rep that you registered the project with

I know down under, we often take manufacturers / vendors to end users to demonstrate solutions, though with the express permission of the integrator involved.

From a distribution perspective, if a vendor approaches an end user about a project that's been registered, and generated by one of our integrators it's always good practice for them to let us know what's going on, otherwise confusion happens. Sometimes they don't talk to us, most of the time they do

I would like to address some of the points in this discussion as a Sony Account Manager and as a veteran of the Security Industry. Before I do, I would ask that Undisclosed 6 call me as soon as possible so that this situation can have an opportunity to be addressed by Sony directly. Please call me at (917) 447-2016.

With that said, I would like to ensure everyone reading this thread that Sony does not sell direct to end users. Period. End of story. In fact, Sony doesn’t even sell direct to our integration partners. As anyone who has purchased Sony in the last 3-4 years can tell you, Sony Security is only sold via our distribution channel.

We do utilize Manufacturers Reps throughout the United States to aid in the sales process. While they play a vital role within our organization they are simply not able to sell our products as all sales must flow through an integrator through distribution.

As is often the case, MR’s, as well as Account Managers, in an effort to grow their business will visit with End Users as well as A&E’s and Consultants and will even participate in local ASIS chapter meetings and various industry trade shows. This is NOT an effort to gain new business by selling direct, rather this type of activity is meant to generate new leads that are to be funneled back through the integrator channel. This is called Business Development and is something that a Manufacturer expects when we hire a Manufacturers Rep.

We would also expect, however, that any preexisting relationships between an integrator and an end user should be honored.

For the folks curious about our Registration Process, the answer is simple. Sony, in an effort to provide protection to the integrator who drove the project, will offer a substantial discount to that integrator which can only be accessed by purchasing through the distributor of their choice. All too many times our integrators have complained that “some other companies” offer project registration but then offer that same “competitive pricing” to multiple distributors and multiple integrators, which ends up driving their margin to the floor.

Sony’s registration program prohibits that practice by relegating it to One Dealer, One Distributor for One End User. This method has been incredibly successful and has allowed many of our partners to make higher margins then they would have with various other manufacturers.

Again, I urge undisclosed 6 to call me or their local Sony AM as soon as they can so that we can gather all of the facts and address this situation immediately.

As for whether the project is completed, yes, and we have a service agreement for the system that was put in place. Both the Sony and Axis cameras have been reliable and the Sony PTZ cameras are amazing, not doubt about it.

My main point was intended to be that when a customer of ours (which I've worked hard to earn) visits with the manufacturer (that I led with and introduced to) they would let me know via email, phone, text when they were meeting with them and potentially what was going on. Isn't that ethical and fair?

I don't believe that Sony would sell direct to an end user but to require that I register the project with a distributor? If that is in fact the hard and fast rule (which I was advised to do) I'm going with the code names idea, starting with 'Starship Enterprise'.