We just did our last show for the year. This one is always a great show because our customers are there, and nearly everyone else is a prospect (or knows the person at their company who should be). And all our competitors are there, too.
This year, our main competitor was kitty-corner across the aisle from us. Intimidating to be sure. We’ve got to do better then them somehow, right? We’ve got to bring our A-game. Well, duh, we need to bring our A-game to a show regardless.
And what happened after a little while, is that we worked the show like we normally would, and so did they. Its hard to put on pretenses when you have visitors to interact with…they suddenly are our number-one focus.
So what did I get out of the experience?
- Our salespeople working the booth are now a little more aware of the dynamics between our companies.
- An opportunity to see how prospects behave differently when talking to us versus them.
- We learned a bit more about our competitor’s sales-style based on their behavior in the show booth (showing vs. listening).
- A chance to see what they know about our company, products, and people.
We had a couple mid-aisle conversations about the show, players in the industry, and other small talk. We see each other once a year, and I did learn I am pretty invisible to them (“are you from the home-office?”).
It was interesting when Peter, a former sales rep of ours, walked one of the competitors over to our booth and proceeded to point out the differences in our products. Then they walked back across the aisle. I kept silent.
Interesting, but who cares? He’s not going to copy what we do. If he didn’t know the details of our product by now, obviously he doesn’t care about it too much. Or, more likely, he doesn’t realize his own weaknesses.
Okay, I will admit wanting to do a close walk-around his product. But I had no reason to, either. We compete so directly, the biggest differences are not the products. Its the branding … and the people who represent the brand. And I think those differences came in to clearer focus for me after this show.