So you’ve decided to visit an Expo, and you are this rare type of visitor who comes not out of curiosity but for a particular purpose. You’ve read a lot about the event and you do believe it’s a can’t-miss one if you want to find software for your accounts payable process. You arrive at the show, see all these vendors and attendees, and suddenly realize that finding your partner here is going to be a tough task.
Where to start? What can you do to make the most of your expo experience? Here are some very simple yet practical ideas to use.
First, when you come to a booth, instead of “How’s the show?” or another “weather talk”, try following your “Hi!” by a straightforward question, “What is that you do?” Give the vendor some 30 seconds to answer what accounts payable processes they specialize in. If they know what they do, half a minute is going to be enough for you to understand. If the explanation takes much longer, or if it doesn’t look clear to you, than either the vendor is not expert enough, or they just deal with something you’re not really looking for. Use your first 30 seconds at the booth to find out who you’re dealing with.
Then, ask yourself if you have any needs to go on with this communication. Be frank, the only reason to go on is your interest in possible further cooperation. If they only automate invoice scanning and do not automate accounts payable processes and procedures which you mostly need, you shouldn’t feel obliged to spend more time here. In case you feel no interest, let yourself move on, you’ve got many more booths to visit.
If you choose to stay, keep the initiative and ask what the vendor’s target markets are. Give another 30 seconds to answer and see whether you are “targeted” here.
If at this stage you feel the vendor might be the one you’re looking for, describe your business problem and ask whether they can help you and, if so, how exactly they could do it. Share your accounts payable specifics, and let them show you how their software for accounts payable automation meets your requirements. And only here, as an act of generosity and your real interest, you may give the vendor as much time to answer as needed.
With a bit of luck, you are likely to meet several vendors that might interest you. Be sure to prepare beforehand a list of questions to ask, covering all the criteria that matter, all the requirements that should be taken into account, and 7 simple questions to feel on the safe side. The answers that you get are going to be of great help when you actually start selecting the vendor.
If you manage to interview all the people of the show this way, you’re pretty sure to find your piece of gold at the expo. However, if idle curiosity is the only thing that made you join the club, just enjoy the show and iPad lotteries. : )