In the SharePoint world, few events compare to the semi-annual conference held by Microsoft. As a vendor, if you go to one show, this is the one. The exhibit hall is a venerable who’s who of the SharePoint ecosystem. But the floor is also rich with representatives from some of the biggest companies in the world looking for products that help solve their problems.

So how can we, as vendors, capitalize on this opportunity?  As I have 5 years in the SharePoint ISV world and 10+ on the SharePoint consulting side, I thought I’d share a couple of my thoughts on how to position yourself for a successful show.

Know Your Product, Know SharePoint

Probably the biggest mistake a vendor can make is go onto the floor with only the knowledge that is printed on their fliers.  The attendees at this conference are a savvy bunch and they will catch it if you start talking about something you know nothing about, nothing will turn a prospect colder.  This goes for SharePoint knowledge as well, that is the focus of the conference after all.

Build Relationships, Don’t be a Pitchman

spc2014blogSo many vendors will take eye-contact as a sign to stop you in the middle of the hall and start their pitch.  Unless you are selling the cure for baldness, I don’t think this approach will work.  The reason anyone wants to buy your products is because they have a need, a problem they need to solve, and your product solves it.  Don’t just dive into the pitch, understand their problem, and if your product doesn’t do what they need, maybe you can help them find one that does.  They will remember you if you help them succeed, and that will benefit you in the long run.

Coming from a consulting background, these relationships that you build with your customers are the most valuable thing you can come away with.  As I have heard from customers, a good vendor is not so easy to find, but they are worth their weight in gold.

So if you are a vendor, don’t be a car salesman.  If you are not a vendor, please excuse those of us that lack the proper manner.  Hope to meet lots of great new people in Vegas, it’s going to be a fun show!