Saturday, April 12, 2008

London Revisited 31 Years Later: Distributing Software In The UK

London – The DSGi computer group invited their best customers – IT managers from leading companies, government and education institutions—to attend a series of lectures and see the latest software and computer products at a mini exposition in Weybridge, an affluent suburb southwest of London in the Surrey district. The venue is an old car race track from 100 years ago, which now hosts a museum of race cars, a mothballed Concorde supersonic jet [the 2nd Concorde I’ve seen today as I passed by one at Heathrow this morning on my arrival] and a car dealership, Mercedes Benz World. Not just a place to purchase vehicles, at Mercedes World a professional driver will take you an obstacle course testing the latest Mercedes vehicles’ ability to accelerate, stop in water (without skidding out of control) and to swerve around objects at high speed (without rolling over or spinning out). This was an added attraction for the attendees [and a good place for me to practice driving on the wrong side of the road]. I was there in a booth representing SmartDraw, the leader in business graphics software, along with our distribution partner in the UK Sigma Software Distribution. I found the quality of the attendees to be excellent and was equally impressed with Sigma’s ability to engage customers. They shared the same philosophy I do, that you might as well throw money on the ground for each attendee who passes by whom you don’t engage and tell about SmartDraw. That’s a polite way of describing “kick ass and take names.” It was quite refreshing to see that in a reseller – someone who actually works and hustles for business--and I believe that we obtained more leads than anyone else at the show (especially given our location near the back where there was less foot traffic). I’ll be following up with Sigma staff on Monday, calling and qualifying the leads, and bringing orders right into the hands of DSGi’s sales reps in an effort to further grow SmartDraw’s sales in the UK to at least 15%, or more, of US sales.
Headlines in the BBC news today are the 150th anniversary of the installation of “the bell” in the Big Ben clock tower, and newly released videos from the 7/7 July terrorist bombers saying goodbye to their families. The London Marathon is tomorrow, and I’ve walked at least half that distance today through London’s major streets, parks and alleys. Having travelled to many European and Asian capitals during the last quarter century except London, I find the central parts (Trafalgar Square, Covent Gardens) magnificent to view, and bustling with activity. No wonder the city is such a popular destination. Dinner Friday night is with Nick & Steven Thompson of Marinesoft, our reseller partner for more than nine years. The company name comes from their passion for sailing. Instead of taking me sailing across the English Channel, we head for Rules, London’s oldest restaurant, established in 1798, where I take revenge on a rabbit who has been splendidly roasted and stuffed. Nick gives me a lesson about English character and management styles. "Non emotional," he says. I tell him that also describes the culture of SmartDraw: decisions are made based on facts and reason. Back at the hotel an urgent message awaits from the home front 8 time zones away, “Caught a gopher and don’t know how to get the corpse out of the trap. What do I do!?”

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