A few days ago the 18th edition of MECSPE came to a close, a trade exhibition that I continue to view as one of the most successful events in Italy in recent years. Once again the exhibition was a fundamental meeting point for customers and suppliers and we returned to MICROingranaggi with some interesting new ideas and concepts to talk over.

An interesting topic arose from the various discussions that took place at the exhibition.

There are those who consider meetings with technical sales teams or, more in general, the actual sector exhibitions are now superfluous, as most decisions are made before meeting a vendor or sales rep,

thanks to the tools provided by the digital era, starting from the web.

But is this really the case?

I am not convinced. Or at least I think that we should make some clear distinctions between what we are actually purchasing,

Let me explain. If I need to buy a PC for home use because the one I have is now obsolete, it’s a good idea to search online to see what’s on the market, the opinions of the experts and the feedback from users. This means we can form a fairly clear opinion on which type of computer responds to our needs and purchase the same (perhaps online).

This concept may be useful (and I think it is) if we are looking at B2C sales, hence business to consumer.
B2B (business to business) however is a different matter.

If, for instance, I own a company that produces gears and I need to purchase a new gear hobbing machine, first of all I would see what’s on the market, that I don’t deny. So I would browse the web, visiting manufacturers sites, specialised industry portals and sector communities. All this, however, is not sufficient.
Because once I have the hobbing machine, I have to install it in my workshop, I have to have it commissioned, I have to make sure my technicians learn how to use it as quickly as possible and, first and foremost, I must be sure I can count on a knowledgeable, reliable and prompt support service in case of any machine down-times or other urgent situations.

So – based on the example of the support service – we all know that all retailers (and also the actual manufacturers) advertise an impeccable customer support service, often of a higher level than those of their competitors. This is obviously the case: nobody would ever declare or say that its hobbing machine is the best on the market, but lacking when it comes to technical support.

So it will be up to us, using our experience and our intuition, to decide – with a face-to-face chat – who our interlocutor actually is and what the company he represents is able to offer us.

So, at a B2B level,

nowadays it is undeniably easy to find suppliers, or rather we should call them “potential suppliers”, as the digital era and the tools it makes available to us, in actual fact do not help us understand the capacity of an enterprise, its level of organization, its reliability and manufacturing potential.

And it is also impossible to understand the type of feeling we will be able to establish with our contact persons. Because, at the end of the day, every company is made of people and the personal relations we are able to establish with our contact persons will be an important factor in the decision we are about to make.

Certainly,

I don’t dispute the fact that using the web is of fundamental importance when searching for a B2B supplier,

as conducting your search, going from one booth to another at all the sector exhibitions and events, would become infeasible, especially given the lack of time we all have nowadays.
After an initial screening, however, I think most of the work still remains to be completed.