By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Best Buy is taking a new approach to selling their products, making the buying experience extremely personal.

The Minnesota-based company is starting an in-home sales service for anything from television sets to kitchen appliances.

Sharon Jensen is making the move across the metro to Hopkins, closer to the grandkids.

“When I bought this new house one of the considerations was, what were we going to do with electronics,” Jensen said.

When she started to look for appliances she went to Best Buy but to her surprise found out that they would also come to her.

“I know Jacob by name and I have his phone number,” she said.

Jacob Bruce is one of Best Buy’s 300 newly-trained in-home advisors. First, he made a visit to size up Jensen’s home, then she and her son came to the store to narrow down and test their newly personalized options.

“When I’m in somebody’s home, it’s easier to see the big picture and how things are going to work for them,” Bruce said.

Bruce does in-home visits for anything from kitchen appliances to television sets. He’s outfitting one south Minneapolis house for security cameras.

“I’m not an electronics guy.  My kids have helped me out,” homeowner Tim Paulsen said. And now Jacob Bruce is helping too.

Bruce is trained to problem solve, like trying to make sure new appliances will fit through specific doorways.

“That’s not something that you would think of when you’re just selling it in the store, but it’s something that could be a very serious problem for our customers,” Bruce said.

Problem solving and expertise — it’s what the man who helped launch the program is thrilled to see. Glen Swanson is senior vice president, national retail sales for Best Buy.

“I think it’s been an incredibly exciting reaction, both from the standpoint of our employees and our teams and from the way the customer’s responding,” Swanson said.

He says Best Buy’s strength is their expertise and this program allows knowledgeable advisors to personalize design and appliance needs — then the Geek Squad comes out to finish the job with installation. And the cost?

“The in-home advisory program and bringing somebody to your home is free, it’s an opportunity for us to better come out and understand your technology needs and connect with you in a way that goes beyond the four walls,” Swanson said.

The program is a sign that the company is rebounding, according to Professor George John.

“Let’s give Best Buy some credit.  They turned the ship around.  They were in dire straits a couple of years ago and the new CEO has turned that around,” John said. “This is sort of the next step, it’s like OK, we’ve stopped the bleeding, we’re making some money, now where do we go next.”

John points out that are costs to train and execute an out-bound sales force but says it’s innovative and there’s major potential.

“If they can pull it off, it will clearly distinguish them,” he said.

The company says so far, so good.  They now have in-home advisors working out of 90 percent of their stores and heading into homes all across the U.S.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield