Savvy Salesforce
 

For lighting showrooms, having employees that bring in good sales as well as offer intricate technical knowledge is a precious commodity. Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC), a certification offered by the American Lighting Assn. (ALA), is not exactly a commonly held title in lighting show-rooms across the country. Most states have less than 10 CLCs, and some have none at all.



  Thus, lighting showrooms that do have CLC employees not only are proud of this fact, they often find ways to advertise it to customers. A recent billboard in Chicago, for example, showed off the legion of CLCs employed by local lighting showroom Lightology, proudly announcing that out of the 12 CLCs in the state of Illinois, nine work there.



  Achieving CLC designation is no short and easy task. It involves, among other things, exams, fees and a blue-print project in which the applicant must design a complete lighting plan for a mock client, according to Nicole Juneau, ALA Director of Education. Therefore, marketing this fact is not only an acknowledgement of the relative rarity of CLCs, it also demonstrates to customers the potential wealth of technical knowledge available with which other showrooms may not be able to compete.



  Valley Lighting and Home Decor in Ansonia, CT, and Gross Electric of Toledo, OH, both encourage employees to become CLCs and actually require certification for the Lighting Specialist title, also provided through the ALA.



 “People who just work on the salesfloor tend to forget the science behind lighting,” says Laurie Gross, President of Gross Electric. “Being a CLC makes sure you really know your stuff.” And customers are quick to notice the added knowledge and help. “They are surprised about how technical your knowledge is,” Gross says. “As a CLC, I’m more apt to be technical with customers than a non-CLC.”

Lightology’s billboard announces the Chicago company’s share of the CLC market in Illinois. Demonstrating both the rarity and immense technical expertise of the designation are key marketing strategies.

    Frank Capasso, President of Valley Lighting and Home Decor, says that contractors might feel more comfortable telling clients that they are working with CLCs, which in turn eases customers’ minds that a professionally executed lighting plan will take place. “It gives us validation on what we’re doing,” says Capasso. “We’re lighting experts.”



    Even marketing the accreditation on a smaller level can help individual salespeople attract customers. Because it is an official title, salespeople often list the acronym on business cards and personal documents. “You see that some people who have [their certification] draw a little more business and get more recommen-dations,” says Lightology Sales Manager John Kay.



   Capasso says that some Valley Lighting and Home Decor magazine ads, as well as the company’s Web site and phone hold system, mention CLC employees. Often, making the public aware that there are professionals whom they can seek out for technical lighting quandaries validates a show-room’s ultimate purpose. “We don’t just sell lights,” Kay says. “We sell people lighting.”

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