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Mo Casas
Mo Casas
Modesto Casas, has 28 years of worldwide market successes. He is multi-lingual and multi-cultural having lived in six countries. Mo has taken several start-ups to international regions and developed them into compelling local enterprises. His company, In Region, takes high technology companies … More »

Psst… DAC visitor! Take a tip from a vendor insider

May 31st, 2010 by Mo Casas

As an insider on the vendor side of the table for the past 25 years, I have heard some of the best techniques from experienced DAC visitors. I am going to share a few of these with you and may the vendors forgive me.

I attended my first DAC in 1985 as a salesman for one of the big vendors. We used to call them the D.M.V. (Daisy, Mentor, Valid). There was no Synopsys, no Cadence. Synthesis was something that plants did with light, but the frantic road to DAC has not changed. Besides the demonstrations, the vendors are creating value statements, positioning and gathering competitive information. The result will be dozens to hundreds of slides and just as many hours of internal meetings. They are all focused on bringing their latest to YOU at DAC.

The most experienced conference goers are also busy preparing their DAC visits, not only who they want to see and what they need to find out, but how to get it. After they figure out which of the big vendors is serving the best lunch and secure their tickets to what could be the last Denali party, they will put some of these techniques to work. You can too.

See the people

DAC is a good opportunity to hear why the smaller vendors think they are indispensable to your design flow. It is also an opportunity to talk to the large vendor’s management one on one.

The most experienced DAC goers leave time to roam the floor and talk to the companies that they targeted and the new ones that they know nothing about. In their briefcase, hidden among their booty of small give-aways, you will find a USB memory stick and a few Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA). They pull out the USB memory when they want to share a presentation with their peers. The NDA comes out if someone says, “I can’t give you the presentation unless we have an NDA”. Besides getting the information that they need immediately, these experts save follow up time after the show.

Take the lead on the approach

The best technical people on the vendor side may not be the most forward. The guy in the middle of the isle with the big smile may not be their best technical guru. Find the guy with his back towards you, tapping on the computer and scratching his head. Slip into the vendor’s booth and ask him what he is doing. “What are you working on?” is a very powerful way to open the discussion.

This type of unexpected and direct question engages people in a normal conversation and helps bypass the prepared slides and positioning statements. While working on behalf of a vendor, I have been approached with questions like: Why are you at DAC? What is the most important problem that you solve? How do you help someone who is doing [your application here]? This last one is an excellent bridge to the next step in your vendor visit, the qualification.

Don’t share competitive information, or ask a vendor’s representative to tell you how they respond to their competitor’s statement. These questions are fun, but they focus the vendor on attacking the competition and not telling what they can really do for you. It also raises the concern that you are going to the competitor with similar information. There is no quicker way to shut down communications.

Qualify the vendor

Every vendor is trying to qualify you. They have trained everyone in the booth to ask what you do and when you will need tools. They want to know if you would be able to buy and when. Your goal is to quickly understand IF they should work with you at all.

If you find that there is not a chance to work together, say it and tell the vendor why. If you hear something that absolutely makes no sense, bring it up. If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification. Remember that the person who is telling you about the latest new product may have heard about it just before the show. Asking for clarification may bring you to one of the developers or product experts.

If you are interested in the company, ask to meet the executives, the CTO, a VP of Engineering. If they are not around, most Product Marketing Managers in our industry are just as technical as the developers. Make a few allowances for positioning and you can get a lot of good information.

The most experienced DAC visitors always want to know what is in production now and ask for the road map. The road map offers a view of what’s missing in the offering today.

Keep the vendor focused on what YOU want

Make appointments to see your target vendors at DAC. When properly focused, suite meetings can be very effective. When you call, tell the vendors what you are interested to see and what you want to get out of the meeting. They’ll start working for you right away.

When you arrive at the meeting, remind the vendor what you want to see and tell the vendor that you have limited time. One CAD Department expert told me once that if a vendor cannot tell him how they can help in ½ hour, they probably can’t help at all. Firm time limits help both sides to compact the messages and bring out the important issues. If you need more time, come back.

When you have told a vendor in advance what you wanted to see, you have the right to focus the meeting. Within your time limitation, leave time for questions and dialog. This gives both parties a chance to understand what they need or can provide. Don’t be too polite, it benefits both of you to get to the point fast.

Effective Follow up

The most efficient way to complete your DAC follow up is to let the vendors do it for you. The expert DAC visitor asks the vendor to keep the minutes at the start of the meeting. This encourages the vendor to take good notes and frees your time.

Be honest and tell the vendor when they should follow up. Remember all the calls and emails that you can get that first week after DAC? Instead, tell the vendor what to send you and when. Put everyone on your time-line. Sure you will still get a few thank you notes, but the important items should be coming when you need them most.

If no follow up is required, you are helping yourself and the vendor by telling them so. Saying “yes, please call” when there is no chance that the solution can help you is a waste of time for you and for the vendor.

Armed with these inside tips used by the DAC experts, you are ready to have a productive show, but I still can’t guarantee the Denali Party tickets.

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