Vendor Relations: A Round Table Report
Cruz Moncivais, CUGG
How to Hold Good
Presented by Gene Barlow
1998 APCUG convention
How to you get members to attend? How do you increase your membership and increase your meeting attendance? Provide professional presentations covering areas of interest and offer something of value for free. So how do you attract vendors to your meetings?
THE VENDOR’S PERSPECTIVE
The vendor is facing several expenses to send a representative to meetings. These are Staff, Travel, Materials, and housing. The paid staff will on average take 15-20 hours of time to prepare, travel and present the information in question. The average cost of pure salary is approximately $380-$475. The cost of airfare is $200-$400, Hotel $80-$120, Car Rental $40-$60, Meals $30-$40, and other miscellaneous costs of $30-$40. Material Cost per presentation includes laptop ($40-$60), projector ($40-$60), door prizes ($10-$20), and Handouts ($5-$20). These are not the total items that a vender has to consider other issues include shipping and handling, rentals and damages. All in all it is not unusual for a vendor to spend $1000-$1200 per presentation.
The purpose of the vendor’s presentation is to sell their product in an educational environment. That is to educate the consumer about their particular product and convince the consumer to purchase their product. So each vendor must justify the expense as a means to generate income.
THE VENDOR’S JUSTIFICATIONS
Users group good will and not bad will is worth at least $100. Opportunity to gain customers: a minimum one-hour pitch to a real live audience estimated value $3 per person per hour. Opportunity to sell products directly to audience estimated value $30.00 per sale.
So a presentation to 100 individuals at $3.00 per head value and an estimated 25% sales per presentation is worth $300.00 for the audience and $750 in sales. Total income opportunity is around $1250.00.
If a vendor is not able to do direct sales then the size of the audience must increase to make up the difference.
WHAT CAN USER GROUPS DO TO ATTRACT VENDORS
First and foremost provide a sizable audience for the vendor to present to. From some user groups it is easier than others. The magic number is 350 plus. To combine with other users groups or perhaps coordinate with other user groups to schedule presentations in sequence so that the total number of possible audience can be as close to the magic number. Encourage your members to turn out. Promote, promote, promote! Encourage members interested in the product to have check or cash on hand to purchase the product. More sales—happier vendor. Arrange to reach a larger audience via radio promo or local cable company promo. Make it more attractive to the vendor so that it would be difficult to say no.
Finally be honest to the vendor as to the expected turn out. Vendors hate to pay shipping twice for the materials shipped out to the event and back home again. It costs money to produce the paper, floppy discs, and CD-ROMs. Don't throw away the materials handed out by the vendor in front of the presenter or where the presenter can see it. It gives the wrong message to the vendor. Be willing to do self presentation kits many vendors put together quality self presentation kits with scripts, PowerPoint presentations, and hand outs that an average individual can present successfully and professionally.
Vendors do share their experiences and one bad experience will be shared even among competitors.