(there is now an addendum at the end of this post – a single question to help you network more effectively with your peers; PLUS a single question for vendors to ask potential clients as they meet/talk with them)
It can be an overwhelming experience to walk into a trade show exhibit hall – so many booths! Wall-to-wall companies! And they all seem to do the same thing!!
Some people* even shy away from vendor interaction because the exhibit hall experience can be so overwhelming, and there’s always a sense that you’re a target being sold to.
*(hello, fellow introverts!)
Well, I want to give you one simple tool to cut through the bull and help you find out if a vendor is potentially a right match for you. It’s a straightforward question demanding a straightforward answer. Here it is:
Here’s the thing to understand – vendors are in a dilemma. They’d really prefer to get only the business that’s an optimal “fit” for them, but they feel the pressure to cast a wide net and portray themselves as providers of “this, and that, and the other thing, too.”
Don’t let them. Go directly for the bulls-eye. Gently force each vendor to define their sweet spot with precision. Have them describe the kind of project where their blood pumps fastest. This is also, by the way, where they’ll have the best case studies (follow up by asking for a case study of how/when they did this for another client).
That’s it! With that one question, you can move past the fluff and get to the heart of the matter. And if a vendor insists that they can do 10 things well and they’re the ideal one-stop shop, just smile and move on.
>>So, you’re a vendor and you want to go beyond the usual canned question(s) when a potential client walks up (so, what are you looking for? Have you seen our such-and-such?) Here’s what I suggest: break the selling mode by introducing yourself, and then asking, with a sincere heart: “What are your goals for attending this conference, and how can I help you?” Then, be helpful – share your knowledge and advice and contacts. Focus your attention on that person, not on your pitch.
>>As an attendee, sometimes it can be awkward to strike up conversations with your peers. We know the standard questions (so, what do you do? How do you like working at ___company___?) Here’s a different question that I find leads immediately to a deeper level of conversation: “I see that you’re working for ___company___ – can you tell me your 2-minute story? How did you your journey bring you to this position?” Then shut up and listen. Give others a chance to tell their story – it’s always more fascinating than a bare exchange of facts. And it will usually open up a much-longer-than-2-minute discussion!
For my biopharma training clients, I hope to see you at the annual LTEN Conference next week in Phoenix. Want to meet up for coffee or breakfast to brainstorm your vendor needs? Just ping me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time to meet with you and/or your team!
Additional reading: Conference Effectiveness Training: Don’t Leave Home Without It by Mark Goulston (and including some perspectives from Keith Ferrazzi who will be keynoting at the LTEN conference next week).
Impactiviti provides vendor-client “matchmaking” services in the life sciences training area. Our business model is built on a unique trusted referral network model.
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