Notes for RSA Vendors

27Apr09

I was put off by quite a few vendors this year because they didn’t have people that could answer basic technical questions.  At more than one booth I was told “The person I need to speak with isn’t here today but they would call me to set up a meeting tomorrow.”  Today?  You mean there is a whole day where you will not have anyone in the booth that can answer technical questions?  It isn’t like I was asking about the details of some crazy algorithm that creates the secret sauce.  This is pretty much what my booth questions are like:

  • Give me your 30 second elevator pitch
  • What are you doing differently from when I talked to you with last year?
  • How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors in the space?
  • What is a typical entry level price point?

I actually had people that couldn’t satisfy #1.  Not sure why they are employed and in your booth if they can’t get that one right.

What are you doing different compared to last years conference is an interesting question.  Many of the folks use the “I’m new here” excuse, having started in the past few months.  I don’t care if you started yesterday, know why your company is spending lots of money to have a booth.  Give me something to work with.

It is amazing to me how many vendors don’t know their competition.  Outside of just flat out not knowing, which is bad, lying is even worse.  I had the CTO of one company explain a feature they had that no one else in the space had.  It was actually a feature that is common amongst various competitors so I called him on it.  He disagreed, and then I explained how it works with a few of him competitors.  His response was: “Well yeah, but nobody implements it.”  Give me a break!

What really bothers me is when I ask about pricing and no one can give me numbers.  I understand my price will vary based on size, services, etc. but lets get past that and give me some ballpark numbers.  I do not want you taking my info to pass along to a sales person to then set up a meeting to talk about pricing.

For next year:  Know your company, your products, and your pricing.  In addition to that, know the same about your competitors!  Spend more money to staff the booth with intelligent people and less on the booth babes that can’t even tell me the company name without turning around to look at the signs.

–DanO

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