Technology for Entertainment, Education and Business: Steve Thorburn Reports from InfoComm 09

Our marketing and business development specialist Meg Barham, part of Thorburn Associates' team attending InfoComm, took part in Bill Sharer's Advanced Integrated Systems Sales class yesterday and Monday. Not many years ago, this was a four-day session, recently shortened to three, and now to two days...

By Steve Thorburn

InfoComm is being prudent in an uncertain economy, but we think this excellent sales class is all the more relevant and valuable in such times and would like to see it expanded back to the full four days. Nonetheless, Meg (incidentally the only female of some 15 students) gained a lot from her two days, especially the role-playing exercise where, in groups of three, participants take turns presenting, reacting to and evaluating one another’s sales presentations.

People with all levels of experience attend Sharer’s sales class so there’s quite a range of styles, skills and backgrounds to learn from and share dialog with. And it’s useful to observe the different ways we approach the industry. Most of Meg’s fellow students were integrators, meaning they supply and install products. Some represented design/build firms, which work on both the design and installation sides of a project. In contrast, our company is design/consulting only – our involvement with the provision, installation and commissioning of equipment is supervisory only, as an owner’s rep. One thing we could all agree on was that it’s a bad idea to sacrifice quality for low price.

Both InfoComm’s IPD (Institute for Professional Development) and “Super Tuesday” curricula used to be more extensive, but are now juxtaposed with one another and with other events. These programs were originally designed to give veterans of the industry generous training opportunities in a window of time prior to the trade show floor opening (it opens today, June 17) – a real boon to companies’ senior staff who can’t spare time off the floor during the show. IPD used to be held twice a year: a midwinter training event in February, and the pre-trade show event in June. Alas, the midwinter session is another casualty of schedule compression – and one that we would very much like to see restored. For some university people, February is an ideal time to take a few days for training, whereas in June many of them can’t get away because of summer construction projects at their facilities. (OK I’m a little cranky about the truncated schedule, but my company’s relationship with InfoComm dates back over 17 years of active teaching and participation in committees so I feel qualified to comment.)

InfoComm has a full schedule of educational sessions on show days also (managed by Bill Thomas and his crew), and seven of those sessions are conducted by Thorburn Associates’ senior staffers: myself, Lisa Thorburn, Jim Horn, Derek Meares and Lance Sturdevant. (see: At InfoComm, Thorburn Associates’ Seven Sessions) This team is the eyes and ears of Thorburn Associates at InfoComm. We’re here to network, listen and learn as well as teach, and to keep our company up to date on products and technologies at what is the world’s largest pro AV show, and you will be hearing more from us in the next several days (the show runs through June 19).

Tomorrow: Report from the trade show floor, some educational sessions, and more.

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