Sony Set to Launch Direct Effort Targeting Small Businesses

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Sony Electronics is planning to unveil its revamped direct sales initiative for the small and medium-sized business market this month at PC Expo in New York. The new program, called Sony Business Direct, will seek to attract more business customers by offering more flexible payment options, dedicated telesales and field sales representatives and private extranets.

The move follows the launch nearly two years ago of Sony VAIO (video audio integrated operations) Direct, a direct-sales initiative that targets the consumer and small-office, home-office customers.

"What we've found during the last two years is that there is a segment of consumers who wish to purchase direct," said Patrick Vogt, vice president of Sony's direct sales division, San Jose, CA. "They are going to buy direct from somebody, and if you're not there as a manufacturer, you are going to lose that business."

The company supports its consumer- and SOHO-oriented direct sales effort with an integrated marketing campaign, including direct mail and direct response print advertising promoting both the Web site and a toll-free number. To promote the expanded services offered through the Sony Business Direct program, Sony will launch some direct response print ads specifically touting the new services, Vogt said.

The company's existing telesales operation, which is outsourced, will continue to handle inbound calls under the new program, but Sony will add dedicated representatives. Sony is using in-house expertise to develop the extranet system, which would allow customers to use the Internet to establish secure, online accounts.

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