No matter where you are at the Las Vegas Market, one thing is abundantly clear, there are two groups of people attending:
- Sellers (exhibitors)
This dynamic is exacerbated by the fact that we all wear name badges where “Buyer” or “Exhibitor” is literally labeled across our chests louder and larger than our companies, and even our names!
It’s actually quite funny your first time at the show. You walk up to these three massive towers, a little in awe of the structure itself and the hordes of people. But that awestruck gaze is quickly wiped off your face when you get stopped at the entrance gate and asked to please put on your badge. That moment then defines the next few days. Which side of the aisle are you on? Are you the shark or are you the bait?
As someone who has spent more than a decade going to market as a buyer, I can sum up the experience for you.
Imagine that feeling you had the first time you went to buy a used car back in the day. You walked onto the lot, and out of every angle and parked car and sign came a salesperson ready to literally pounce on you with a huge smile and promises of the best deal in the world!
Being a buyer your first go-round can be a bit like that. First off, pretty much anyone with an “exhibitor” badge will walk up to you and, before greetings or smiles, they will first look at your badge to spot the “Buyer” label and then to see if the company you work for is large enough to recognize. If you somehow pass those two, then, and generally only then, will they look up and acknowledge you.
I get it, the above sounds harsh, and yes, of course, it’s probably overboard—and that is not all exhibitors. However, there are plenty like that.
Now, the point of this article is not to trash on sellers, or the market in general—as I love my time at the show and always value the friendships I have made on all sides of the business. What I would like to do is offer up advice to all who attend the show on ways to be present, be a true friend, and make the experience memorable for all.
- Follow the Golden Rule
Sounds cheesy, I know, but I am shocked at how many people at the show don’t understand how to treat people with integrity, transparency, and honesty.
If you attempted to make real connections, and meaningful relationships as a priority over just making the sale, you would be surprised how many doors will open.
- Don’t Burn Any Bridges
Although the mattress and furniture industry is a billion-dollar industry, the group that runs it is actually quite small and very interconnected.
Whether you are trying to sell a new client, losing an existing one, or are asked to refer someone to a competitor, remember that how you treat someone at this show WILL come back to either benefit you or harm you down the road.
I can tell you as a long-time buyer, the second I heard an exhibitor trash their competitors I was out. In fact, it would make me curious about the company they were trashing.
- Under Promise and Over Deliver!
As a buyer I cannot tell you how many times I have been told yes. Yes to every question, every delivery date, every feature. When it comes time, however, to actually make it happen, often times these dates and deliverables fall way short.
I understand that you are trying to make a sale, upgrade, add on, and I appreciate it, however by failing to deliver you shoot any chance of these types of sales down in the future.
Most buyers would prefer you are straight up, honest, and even under promise to a degree. As you continue to hit your targets and commitments the additional orders will flow.
- Build real relationships with your buyers
This is the number one thing you need to do! Not fake questions about a buyer’s family show after show, but actually learning, digging deep, and trying to get to know someone and how you can help their business first.
If you take the approach of helping the client, and really personalizing their experience, they will feel so much more willing to work with you.
Don’t underestimate the fun factor. Being able to get out of the booth for dinner, activities, whatever you can to see beyond the buyer/exhibitor badge will do wonders to help that relationship along.
- Don’t be a D-BAG. We all know that the exhibitors are there to earn your business, but taking advantage of that is really lame.
- Just because your badge says Buyer doesn’t give you a free pass to lead people on or pin companies against each other. Just as the buyer doesn’t like when a seller is not being transparent, neither does the exhibitor. Being upfront and honest makes the relationship so much easier and better.
- Keep your appointments! The exhibitor’s schedules are crazy, so sticking to your time is crucial for them to have a great show.
- Treat the vendors like gold and do any favor you can to help them out. Connect them with colleagues, refer them to competitors if that is better for them, or just be their favorite buyer.
At the end of the day, when we build true, meaningful relationships that go beyond just the sale, we all win.
I remember a show where I was checking into a large exhibitor’s booth and I was a bit behind the larger group. The lady checking me in said that I wasn’t on the list and then asked me this question in her epic English accent, “Would you consider yourself to be important, orrrrr?”
Still makes me laugh! Obviously, the answer is no, not at all. I go to the shows to continue to build up my relationships and see how I can support my friends and in turn, it always seems to work out when I get just what I need as well.