Does being loyal mean you can’t look, talk, or touch?
Having a loyal customer to their brand, solution, service or company is the wholly grail achievement for any vendor. It goes without saying that there are people that will go down with any ship or stand by a product through thick and thin based on their loyalty. In a world that seems to constantly evolve and change, and with companies that are bought, sold, and sometimes shutdown, keeping your options open and constantly evaluating solutions may not be a bad idea.
As a regular to tradeshows I often times find myself on both sides of the fence, whether it is as an attendee or sponsor. As an attendee I have found myself walking past booths, avoiding eye contact, and generally disinterested in my chosen brands’ competitors, based on my loyalty. I’m sure we have all done it at one time or another. But what if I had stopped to visit with each of those competitors? Would I have learned about something new that might help my business? Could I have learned the differences between my favorite brand and another? Would it be worth my time, whether I am interested or not?
The answer is most likely yes. Most vendors would love your business but are more likely to educate rather than hard sell, especially in the IT channel. It is very easy for you to walk up to a booth and say, “I am an XYZ customer, I love everything about them and have no plans to switch, but I am interested to hear the differences between your solution and theirs.” This is an easy non-aggressive way of educating yourself on what is available. Even if you hear about something that interests you that may not be available from your loyal brand, it can lead to you asking your loyal brand if they are working on that solution.
As a vendor it can be disappointing to see people pass by you with no interest in your products or service, as they wear the shirt, button, or branding of your competitor. It may not be immediately apparent but you might be missing out on something new and revolutionary that you were unaware of otherwise. Many vendors have begun diversifying their product stacks and adding new solutions that may not even be competitive to their once rivals. This means that though there may be products that are competitive others may not be and a once competitor may now have a solution that would make sense mixed in with the loyal brand.
If you are attending a tradeshow, take the time to talk to all of the solution vendors. Generally you are able to get great education and networking opportunities based on their sponsorship of the event. Having loyalty to a company, product, or service is great, but just remember why you are attending the event in the first place, to be educated.