In yesterday’s post, I talked about how we’re all gearing up for the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). I promised to give you a few glimpses into what it’s like to exhibit at these scholarly conferences. The first thing I want to mention is an approach to demos we don’t use at any other shows: the sit-down demo.
At most shows with exhibit halls, people browse the booths without a whole lot of purpose. They might be looking at books and be surprised to see a booth devoted to Bible software. In most cases, they’re certainly not looking for Bible software. Demos to these folks tend to last only a minute or two. You show enough of Accordance so they can get an idea of what it can do, but you really just scratch the surface. The merely curious will go away having been exposed to something new and cool, while those who are really interested will stick around long enough to make a purchase.
These scholar’s conferences are different. The people there are students, professors, and other academics looking for tools to help in their research. They don’t want some generic sales pitch about the software’s capabilities; they want to know if this software can help them in their specific areas of research. So we arrange our booth with chairs around each demo station so we can sit down with people, find out what their needs are, and then show them how Accordance can meet those needs.
Doing this effectively means that the people we have manning the booth have to be able to address just about any area of biblical studies. That doesn’t mean we’re all scholars in our own right, but most of us have a working knowledge of Greek and/or Hebrew and can at least figure out which member of the team to call upon for help. If one of us runs into a question we can’t handle, there’s usually another member of the team who can, and it’s not unusual for customers to end up being helped by someone different than they started with. It’s a really cool team dynamic, where we all work together to help the customer, and personal ego never seems to get in the way. None of us has anything to prove other than that Accordance is the best tool for the job.
Most of those who come to our booth are astounded at the level of attention they receive. At times they’ll even stop in the middle of a demo, look at their watch and realize they’re about to miss a session they meant to attend, and then decide their time is better spent with us. Those who absolutely have to leave often end up coming back to the booth more than once in the course of the conference. It’s a really interesting dynamic I haven’t experienced at any other show.