So I get an invitation to 2013 MachineFest put on by DMG / Mori Seiki / Ellison Technologies and decided to attend in order to learn more about the processes and technologies used in oil & gas manufacturing. It was a great event with tons of live demonstrations and technical briefings. And even the food was amazing.

Naturally I talked to many different vendors, and most were from the sales departments of their respective companies. Now some people will tell you that networking with sales people is a waste of time. But like everything else, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.

Sales people as a group are focused on short term goals (think closing a deal). So if you bring something to the table that helps with those short term goals, they will have an interest. And thats just what I was focused on as I spoke to all these different vendors.

At each booth I introduced myself and asked what their company did. Then I asked how their year was going and all most all of them said “good”, but things could always get better. So next I asked them about the leads being generated at the show, then naturally we moved to the quality of the leads being generated for them by other methods (knowing ahead of time this is always an issue).

I then asked them what would their sales numbers look like if 60-70% of their inbound leads were of high quality, and their eyes lit up. At that point they all wanted to know what modalpoint did, and I happily explained. Now please note that even though I planned this out, it was by no means misleading or deceitful. I was simple being strategic in how I interacted with a group of salespeople in a trade show environment. And at no point did I try to “close” anybody, but rather simple provided high value information and handed out business cards to those who asked. This was about influence, not sales.

At lunch one of the sales guys I had chatted with brought over his SVP of operations and now I have a new prospect in the pipeline 🙂