In this Everything Audio interview, Saben Shawhan, director, partner BD and PAS audio sales at Harman Professional Solutions discusses the art of the demo, why people are trying to do more with less, the importance of learning from your mistakes, and why keeping up with technology and investing in training is essential.
At Harman you started as consultant liaison manager for audio systems east in 2015, then were appointed to senior manager business development for three years, and you’ve spent the past four years as director of partner BD and PAS sales audio. What does your current role at Harman entail?
It is a broad spectrum, and like my career path, my current role is a mix of all of those things that I have done over the past 20 years. I manage a couple of different slightly unique teams, one of which is our pre sales support team for integration. We call it a PAS team, which is the same kind of support but for our production and touring partners.
Along with that, some of the people on my team are what I like to refer to as partner or specialty business development – they're talking with the very high functioning and users that maybe have their own design departments, like a lot of themed entertainment or professional sports where the in-house staff are very elevated and very good at their job.
I manage a couple of different groups simultaneously, which is really great, because there's a lot of cross coordination and collaboration where our touring specialists might bring something to the table that an integration person didn't, and vice versa.
You’ve just finished a very successful 15 city JBL audio roadshow. How has this helped connect with customers?
It went really well. We've done this for two years in a row and it's a really great way for us to bring some of these products to the customers to let them hear them. In audio, I've found that nobody buys a system unheard; part of the experience is listening to that system and deciding what is right for you, your project or your production, and this is a way for us to do that.
A lot of these systems are too large to easily demo without setting them up in a proper theatre or house of worship, so setting them up in an appropriately sized space lets us the customer get firsthand experience to put their hands on the gear. That really gives them a sense of what it is capable of doing without having to travel to a show.