AUSA Day 1: Hard Sellers, Card Collectors—and Booth Potatoes

Oct. 7, 2016

Yesterday, I was sitting in our really nice conference room with some of my colleagues, reviewing topics for meetings later in the week. It turns out that the contacts we made have provided some new insights that will be useful in those sessions. I always find it amazing what you learn when you invite your customers (and their customers) to tell you what is on their minds.

Trade shows are (bluntly speaking) about selling stuff. (I mean shows are expensive, and if you don’t get some sort of return, you can go broke doing them.) That said, it is endlessly fascinating to see the different ways people approach getting a return. 

There’s the “hard sell”—“Hey pal, come have a look, our thing is the best thing ever. By the way what do you do?” 

There’s the “card collector”—you know, the person that stands outside the booth and scans every badge that passes—“Hey boss, I collected 248 leads in only one day!” 

Then, there is the “booth potato.” You know the type; sits there in a chair sipping a cold coffee and “sending emails” while visitors pass by. These folks can never understand why they never get any qualified leads. How can they come back year after year?

Our folks

Fortunately there are other types. I’m pleased to say that our folks are clearly in this camp. These folks stand in the booth (we actually don’t allow chairs on the booth) open and ready to explain the demonstrations we have running, how our embedded computers do things that mean something to our customers and the Army. Sure: we have technical experts that answer the hard questions—but often, those same people can be seen showing a 10 year-old how the same hardware found in their gaming computer is ruggedized and applied to improving situational awareness for our troops.

We ask the best and the brightest minds in the Army and in the customer base we serve (and hope to serve) to come visit with us. And do they ever come see us! We ask them to tell us if we are making investments in the places that best serve their needs. I can tell you: it really warms my heart to see these people (and there are so many of them) take their really valuable time to share with us their needs, to see what we are doing and listen to our story. Is this “selling”? I guess it is, but what we learn is beyond any monetary accounting and, really, it’s more like meeting up with friends.

Yesterday was great. Our demos ran flawlessly and our people were engaging and responsive. We met and chatted and taught and learned for eight solid hours, finishing at 6:30—and looking forward to what will hopefully be another great day at AUSA.

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