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Vetting Products at InfoComm

Once again our industry's biggest event, InfoComm, is here. Now that the exhibition is bigger than ever. Columnist Kris Vollrath shares a little guidance for separating the wheat from the chaff on the show floor. Even if you're not at InfoComm this month, these pointers will help you think critically about new products and technologies before you add them to your arsenal.

3. The Evaluation Process. Now you're ready to evaluate technology solutions against one another. Consider how your clients will use a solution, who will use it, and how big its potential may be in their organizations. One trick to doing digital signage right is knowing how to marry the right solution to your client's needs. Every dealer wants to land the big project, but in reality, your bread and butter will be small to medium deployments that grow over time.

Most signage networks start small, with clients treading carefully. And here's something to consider about larger networks: Many customers change out the software solution in the first year. What does that tell you? That even though they felt their choice was exactly what they wanted, something either changed in their requirements or the solution didn't perform as expected. Thankfully, this doesn't happen as often with small to medium networks, where decisions actually take longer to make. Key points here: Know your target clients, and know how the solutions you're evaluating will meet their requirements.

4. The Sale. You've researched and chosen the solution or solutions you'll offer. As you grow the business, you'll be doing this again and again. You've been trained on the solution and set up demo gear. When it comes to digital signage, you'll now learn the sales process can be very long. Even the client with an “immediate need” may take a couple months. It's rare to get a purchase order the day of the demo (though it does happen on occasion). Expect the process to last anywhere from four weeks to six months, depending on the size and complexity of the solution and the point the client is in the decision making process. But stick with what you learned in the first three steps and you'll be okay.

So if you're lucky enough to be walking the floor at InfoComm, take the opportunity to talk to as many vendors as possible. Open your mind. It's a lot of fun to hear all the different perspectives. And if you're stuck at the office investigating on your own, take comfort in this: Your feet won't be hurting you for three days straight.

Kris Vollrath is vice president of Advanced AV in West Chester, Pa., and an industry consultant. He can be reached at

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