It’s that time of year again. Conferences, trade shows, and suppliers are on the road showing their products, touting their greatness, and trying to attract new or add-on business. I like this time of year because it gives us a glimpse into the directions and trends technology is headed.It should also be a time when those seeking knowledge can discuss how this technology is applied to a business problem. The challenge is, keeping the person demonstrating on the discussion track and away from the canned demo. (I know, I was one of those demonstrators.) It is not that they want to avoid the discussion, it is that they are excited about their new capabilities.
As you pass through the exhibit areas, take with you a specific business problem you are trying to solve. present this scenario to the supplier representative and ask him/her how they would approach your situation. The response doesn’t have to be in great detail but an overview enough to help you make a decision to discuss it more outside of the exhibit area, after the conference. By using the same scenario with each supplier you visit, you will get a sense of their technology differences – if any – but certainly who you feel more comfortable with going forward.
Look for answer that include examples of other businesses like yours that have been helped. Use their focus in responding to you as a general guide. Did this person answer or keep avoiding your questions? If they were uncertain, did they bring in another representative with more experience in your area? If you get the sense you are not being heard, and you are not comfortable with the interaction at this event, you may not be happy if you choose them in the future. If you feel that the solutions is really what you want, call that supplier after the event, ask to speak with someone familiar with your market space, and let them know that you were not happy with the results at the event, but you are willing to give them a second chance for your business.