Changing the conversation in Pro-AV

Many in the industry have said - and shown - that they are interested in more than gathering for the sake of sales transactions.
Changing the conversation in Pro-AV
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Do you know that feeling you get when you are walking in a mall, and then out of the corner of your field of view you see a random individual who looks like they are about to approach you to sell you some perfume, a makeup kit, or maybe even a free sample of a local snack?

If you are like me, you realize that this person is only doing their job, and you want to politely yet firmly decline whatever the offer is, and you are ready to do so even before you are approached because, frankly, you just have other things you feel you need to do and spend your time on. And while this offer is not inherently a bad thing, it just isn’t what you planned to spend your time on today. It seems to be an inconvenient distraction.

Leo the MASTER lotion kiosk salesman (Studio C)

Now imagine that you are at a pro-AV event. This scenario in the mall may now be amplified and magnified one thousand-fold as many have gathered on the floor to potentially sell you a new product. For many, this scenario is overwhelming. Granted, professional events provide more opportunity to have less transactional interactions as many booths and kiosks are designed to draw your eye in a gentler way than having a random stranger call out to you from a few feet away. Now, I am not meaning to diminish the importance of using in-person events to not only showcase the benefits of new products you have to offer, but to also learn about and be inspired by the various technological advances in the industry today. But I am meaning to point out that for some, a cold call and a booth promotion can both be defined in the same way: as an inconvenient distraction.

So what does this mean? Are we doomed to wallow in shallow seas of devices for the rest of our days in pro-AV events, caught up in all the noise, the lights, the sounds, etc? I don’t think so. And I think we have an opportunity to seize, where we can make our interactions with one another deeper, more meaningful, and ultimately more profitable on both sides. We just have to pay attention to what we are all saying we need and want.

I have been in the AV industry since 2006, and while that may not be the longest tenure on record, I have seen and heard enough to know that we — all of us — increasingly want more from our partnerships, more from our vendor relationships, more from our manufacturer ecosystems, and more from our technology. But I do not think all of this “more” equates to more complexity in fulfilling the wants. 

Standing room only at a conversational session at InfoComm 2024 related to the importance of valuing women equally  in the workplace.

A paraphrased quote that I heard multiple times at InfoComm and Integrated Systems Europe 2024: 

We want to do more than just be sold to. We want to discuss solutions, not just products.

What I take from this is that people are wanting to talk with PEOPLE more than they want to read sales brochures. Why do I think this? Because solutions require personal attention to detail and they are relatively dynamic in nature. They are not cold, nor are they templatized. They, like relationships, are tailored to the needs and abilities of the people involved on all sides. A projector that works in the Smithsonian exhibit on one subject can also be used in a cinema setup for a corporate gathering room. But that product is a part of a larger tailored solution for each scenario. 

This goes beyond just discussing tangible sales of products and services. People are also interested, as that quote says, in DISCUSSING solutions (to challenges).

Another paraphrased quote from InfoComm 2024:

Xchange Live is now my favorite part of coming (to InfoComm).

Why is that, do you think? I think it is because the challenges we face as an industry —- and as individuals within it — are myriad, and they are complex. They cannot all be solved by flipping a switch, buying a new kit, or contracting a new service. Some of the challenges we share are deep, they are nuanced, they are cultural, and they take long-term investment to reap lasting ROI. Programs like Xchange Live are just launchpads for the kind of knowledge-sharing and conversations that needs to take place for us to all feel connected with one another. Those connections will yield roots and branches that connect us to and carry along solutions beyond budgets, beyond verticals, and beyond borders. They are organic, yet deliberate, and they go beyond just networking for networking’s sake. In fact, it may be that conversations of this nature are becoming a bit of a solution themselves, as they carry with them the waves of discovery, trust, and innovation that are priceless for an industry that finds itself trying to connect more with itself and its future.

And the moral of the story for those looking to sell: Yes, clinging to this idea WILL inspire more confidence in and connection with your brand. :)


Scott Josephson of Google leads a conversation at InfoComm 2024

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The engagement during the Xchange Live sessions was great. Not only were audience and panel members able to give voice to some of the big challenges being faced by the industry (workforce development, DEI, the rise of AI) but what I witnessed was that in real time people were offering solutions too - brainstorming in real time to help others in the industry. To echo your message, I think this is what people did come for. To make connections and discuss solutions.

Go to the profile of Sanj Surati
14 days ago

It was a great 2nd season at Infocomm for the Avixa Xchange Live 🙌