A Vendor Beholden To Budget
Although I receive a lot of cold calls from vendors looking to do business with me, only one stood out last week, for all of the wrong reasons. I respect the fact that vendors try to reach out to me, and am more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Especially when they inform me that they are a “leader in the college sports industry, with superior product, delivery and satisfaction to every client.”
This part perplexed me, as I pride myself on knowing a lot of the vendors in the sports space. And I’d never heard of the company, although the vendor rep was very adamant that he had several clients at neighboring schools.
So, I took a chance, told him to send me samples. Also asked if he wanted to meet in-person June 14-19 in Orlando at NACDA/NAATSO.
There was a pause on the rep’s end of the line, a bit of confusion, then the rep admitted that he knew nothing about NACDA/NAATSO.
Note: It is the largest convention for college athletic administrations, occurs every year, and has about 6,000-7,000 attendees. I’m also the current president of NAATSO, something that I am very passionate about. In our first year, we have a membership north of 200 members and about 100 registered attendees.
So, I sent the vendor rep some information on NACDA/NAATSO. After all, if they haven’t heard of it, they should. Their competitors are all present in the convention, developing one-on-one relationships with all of the folks that the vendor rep is cold calling. Especially if this company is a “leader in the college sports industry.”
This is the e-mail that was sent back to me less than an hour later:
None of this happens in a vacuum. The vendor rep was likely told by their supervisor that they hadn’t “expensed” NACDA/NAATSO in the budget for this fiscal year, therefore it was a non-starter.
I spoke to the main contact at NACDA responsible for sponsorship. He said he has this conversation 100 times a year.
But here’s my question: When faced with the dilemma of your entire prospective customer base being out for an entire week, developing personal relationships with your competitors in one space and at one location, doesn’t it require you as a company to throw away the budget and just make the expense?
In this case, this company felt it did not. They are going to send me samples. Great. Meanwhile, I will be with my colleagues in one location, discussing the merits of each of their competitors when it comes to product, delivery and satisfaction. People buy on the evaluation of experiences of their friends, not just a good sales pitch. But if you aren’t even going to come play the game, even send one of your vendor reps to attend the conference to at least attempt to create relationships, are you even advertising in this space?
I feel sorry for that vendor rep. Unfortunately, the bean counters for that company have won.