A view of the industry through the
eyes of a chain buyer.
Buyers' Horror Stories
Vendors: Here's what NOT to do at trade shows.
by "Benny Da Buyer" (January, 2004)
(Note: "Benny" is the pseudonym for various
chain-store buyers – all of whom need to remain anonymous. Since
major trade shows will soon be upon us, this seemed an appropriate
time to remember past shows – and some rude, goofy exhibitors.)
Here it comes again. It’s that time of year for all buyers:
trade shows. Trade shows can be quite an interesting experience,
sometimes exciting and sometimes just annoying. As a buyer, I can’t
put myself in the shoes of a vendor, but I can put you into our
Here are some of the great stories that I have compiled from my
Vendor Booth Etiquette.
I can remember scheduling a vendor meeting at a show and having
the meeting not go as planned. We were sitting in the booth
discussing current business when a new vendor who was seeking my
business interrupted the entire meeting to introduce me to the
president of his company. It was quite rude to the people in the
meeting with me, not to mention embarrassing to me.
It is also embarrassing to be a buyer in a booth having a meeting
and the vendor ignores you to greet someone else from another
company. It does not sit well with the original buyer no matter how
big or small.
You know who you are. The stalker. I walked a show with someone
from my company who was not a buyer (hearing and seeing his
perspective was quite interesting). He caught on to the fact that
someone was stalking us. The stalker/vendor would hide behind other
people and try and get lost in the crowd. It wasn’t working. Every
corner we turned, there he was. Finally we were forced into his
booth. I didn’t buy any product from that particular vendor –
and never will.
One time while I was walking a show with my boss, a vendor jumped
into the aisle and grabbed us. The vendor accosted me in front of my
boss for not returning a phone call that was made from the show
floor to my office line. It was not a good moment.
Stalking becomes a daily issue. I have traded badges with someone
else so that I'm not recognized. I have flipped my badge around. It
can be overwhelming for a buyer. I even know of someone who was
followed into the ladies room by a vendor who just wanted a few
minutes of her time. We realize that you are trying to sell us
something, but we are people too.
Lack of Follow Up.
The most surprising thing to a buyer is the general lack of
follow up. After a vendor has taken the time to stalk you through
the crowd, or run through the aisles to chase you down, there is
only a slight chance that you may actually have follow up from a new
vendor. As shocking as it sounds, some vendors have a hard time
following up with topics that are discussed at trade shows.
MORE THOUGHTS ON VENDOR BEHAVIOR
by Mike Hartnett
"Benny" isn't the only one who's been accosted by
someone in a rest room. I was in a trade show rest room once and
witnessed a trade magazine publisher trying to sell an ad to a
manufacturer – while the poor guy was trying to use the
Once, I was walking briskly down an aisle on the way to the rest
room when a vendor jumped out of his booth, stopped me, and started
talking. And talking. And talking. Meanwhile, the call of nature was
calling more loudly, and periodically I would say, "I really
have to leave; I'm late for a meeting."
The vendor kept talking. And talking. And talking. Finally I was
getting desperate and shouted, "I HAVE TO GO TO THE
Many exhibitors who are new to the world of chain store buyers
and trade shows believe a show is the one-and-only chance to make a
sale. Consequently, they often act in ways that just turn off the
(Note: To read previous thoughts by "Benny,"
click on the titles in the right-hand column.)