A Glaring Problem

A Glaring Problem!

This is what people looked like at ShopTalk when they walked the expo floor.

Whether you are in Marketing, eCommerce, Retail, Analytics, or Creative, knowing all the technology companies that cater to you is near impossible. Even if you did, understanding them all and the differences between them if definitely impossible.

I just spent the last 3 days in Las Vegas at ShopTalk representing a retailer that I am advising. The content they produced was interesting and valuable, at least what I was able to see. The expo hall however was sensory overload. There has to be a better way to discover new technology. If there was a rhyme or reason to how they organized the expo, I don’t have any idea what it was. It seemed that every aisle had a payment solution, multiple companies to help with website optimization, and a supply chain tech company. ShopTalk said there were over 600 sponsors but it felt like 6,000 booths. I have 3 key observations to share with you:

  • There are too many tech vendors for buyers to sift through alone
  • The sales skills in our industry are lacking
  • Vetting technology is much more difficult than vetting media

We (Cogent) can’t say that we are knowledgable on all the companies in play, but we do our best to help our members navigate this landscape a little bit better. The logos of unknown companies doesn’t help buyers focus. Buyers are thinking about the challenges they are dealing with and need to solve. We take a problem/solution approach at Cogent and perhaps ShopTalk can do the same next year. If they ask me, that’s what I will tell them.

When I did stop to talk with someone, I was underwhelmed. There was one company that I wanted to learn more about and when I walked up and asked for the pitch, I was pointed to a young gentlemen who went directly into a script without asking me any questions. I stopped him repeatedly in an attempt to help him focus but he just continued. I still don’t really understand what that company does. I walked away and he just let me go without even asking to scan my badge. My advice to companies that are paying a fortune to have a booth, don’t have your SDR’s man the booth.

Another company flagged me down and did ask me a few questions first. But then he just went into an overview of his business that honestly didn’t tell me anything. This guy was much older than my other experience but it seemed like it was his first sales job. All of these companies sound the same to me and none of them do or say anything to help me differentiate between them. Many times it will come down to the relationships so if you want to be part of the conversation, you need to take an interest in my business first.

Thankfully, I had a plan for ShopTalk so it was successful for me. My promise to our members moving forward is that I will do my best not to use buzz words like AI, Machine Learning, and Headless. These words don’t tell you what problem I am solving.

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