Name tags not required
When did the word “vendor” take on a negative connotation?
As vendors, at parking conventions we wear name tags different from the regular attendees’. We may not be welcome to attend all the meetings, just some of them. We eat before the rest of the convention-goers, like the “kids table” at Thanksgiving. We have limitations.
We might be called on to buy an expensive dinner and a bottle of Caymus wine for a group wearing the “better” name tags, and we do it. Vendors pay the lion’s share of the show’s costs, but are subject to attitudes and inferiority complexes. Feel sorry for the vendors yet?
No need to. Many vendors you see at trade shows are highly compensated, love what they do, and are honored to serve. I am one of them (except the highly compensated part).
The vendors who complain don’t understand their position. It’s an honor to serve this community as a vendor. From my perspective, it’s the best seat in the house.
I attended the recent NPA Winter Leadership Forum 2017 in Scottsdale, AZ. I was sitting at a breakfast table one morning, talking to a few of the “good” name tags. When I was all alone, a newer vendor complained out loud to me that there wasn’t enough interaction between vendors and the good name tags.
I do want to make sure you understand that at this strong NPA event, everyone has the same name tag; I am referring to the traditional trade shows.
I asked this “newbie” to further explain. He said he was having trouble getting people to talk to him. I said to him, “I think I can help you.”
He asked how. I said, “You must first understand that you aren’t a vendor; you are a partner.” I continued, “Until you believe that you are their partner and until you see the success of their company as your personal responsibility, you will remain a vendor.”
Just then, a “solid gold” name tag walked by and said, “Hey, Jeff, I don’t want to leave without an opportunity to discuss business.”
The newbie vendor looked on with shock. I just looked back at him and smiled.
How rare is it that you get validated within seconds of a lesson?
When the name tag came back into the room, he initiated sitting beside me. I said to him, “No foreplay here. When do I get all of your business?”
He said, “Soon, and here’s where I want to start.” He went on to outline a plan to look at more than 250 of his properties. That’s a partnership!
Who you are and what you are is 99.9% in your head. The limitations of your title are only what you have conjured in your head.
When our company first started in this business, we would wear matching green shirts proudly displaying our logo and website. We looked like vendors. One day I said to the guys, “We need to start dressing like where we want to end up.”
Look at us now. We are the vendors who are wearing suits and ties at the trade shows. If we lost our name tag, I’m guessing we could get in without one, and eat at the “big kids” table.
As a vendor, you are the subject expert. Begin to recognize that you bring value and tools to your clients; they need you. They couldn’t do their job without you.
Start using inclusive words such as Team Member, Partner, Expert, Value, Purpose, Helper and Success to get invited into your client’s inner circle.
A good client doesn’t look at name tags; they wouldn’t even see them. They are too busy looking into the eyes of their strategic partner — you!