October 31, 2022
Don't Miss Getting MUG'd
During my brief stint of sales work, I had a chance to sit in on a meeting to improve my skills. There was one concept that caught my attention. If handed a pencil and the person said, "Sell me that pencil" I was to hand it back and ask, "What do you need it to do?" If the reply was to find an easier way to change a truck tire, I'd know this wasn't the correct product. However, if he wanted to write reports, correct mistakes on the reports, and have something he could slide onto the top of his ear for easy accessibility, then I'd proceed to highlight the salient points.
Then I was thinking about if that person met someone else who also used the pencil and that person mentioned how he used the pencil in a unique manner for his type of job.
I remembered all of this last weekend when I met my friend Bob who works in the maintenance department at a manufacturing plant just outside of town. Since his company uses Mapcon Technologies' computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), I'd see him at the Mapcon User Group conference the previous week.
He nodded. "Yeah, Steve, I discussed the conference with my supervisor, but he wasn't certain if attending would be worthwhile."
"Bob, you missed a great conference."
"Four days, Steve?" Bob shrugged. "Even I didn't want to sit through four days of seminars."
"Wait a minute," I said. "Let me stop you because you're wrong about what happens at these events. It's so much more than presentations. The purpose is not to have you sit through a series of seminars."
"I don't understand," he said.
"First of all, there were only three days of presentations. I know with previous conventions, other types of 'entertainment' activities were scheduled, but this year, those who attended spent several hours on the first day, Monday, at a food and games venue, Smashpark. A little friendly competition and getting to know people from mother companies and various industries. That's the key right there, Bob. Talking with each other. Making contacts. Learning about other people and businesses. We had people from California, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Louisiana."
"They came that far?" Bob asked. "To Iowa?"
"To the Rewind hotel in West Des Moines. Great place. Stylish, easy access, with several restaurants and shopping nearby."
"Tell me more," Bob said.
"A few Mapcon employees joined the fun, but everyone came to the meet-and-greet in the afternoon before enjoying a meal served by Johnny's Italian Steakhouse."
"I've heard of that place. Good food?"
"Fantastic, but again, you're missing the point. Talking with people. Talking with clients. That's what made the evening as well as the other days so valuable. Some of us never have talked with our clients except by phone through support calls. It was a great way for companies' reps to meet others from their CMMS vendor. I talked with a maintenance supervisor who oversees operations at the capitol complex, a woman who works in purchasing, and several others.
"Okay, but what about those seminars?"
"Informative. The meeting room was set up with a huge projection screen. Everyone, even those in the back row could see
and read the material. And no one used a microphone because it wasn't needed."
"What about the seminars themselves?" Bob asked. "They pertained to MAPCON, right?"
"Sure, but think about how your company uses the system."
"Preventive maintenance and inventory control. A little purchasing."
"Right and others use it for the same purposes. But what if one company uses it in a slightly different way than another?"
"I don't understand," he said.
"Think about it. If one supervisor handles maintenance by doing X, maybe another rep never thought of that method. Maybe, that person could adapt the method for his own operation."
"I think I see where you're going," he said.
"Better planning and scheduling concepts, lockout/tagout procedures, Customization. There's a popular topic. You have customizations, right?"
"Of course. We had a few created about six months ago."
"That's what I mean. What if another company could benefit from that? No one would know unless you shared it."
"What else was discussed?" he asked.
"Checklists, barcodes, multiple site usage."
"We use those checklists," Bob said.
"How about on a mobile device?"
"Certainly. Why wait until you get back to the office to input the information?"
"I see what you mean," Bob said.
"That's what I meant by sharing ideas. I suspect those who attended will discuss a lot of the material presented when they return home. And again, it wasn't just about seminars. The informative times were mixed with light-hearted times."
"There was a team building exercise similar to the game Scategories. We split into two groups, and members had to work together to come up with answers. A lot of laughs."
"Plus, representatives had a chance to meet with Mapcon support and IT people for one-on-one conversations. Not only scheduled times but during free moments."
"I like that."
"In fact, Wednesday afternoon I saw several conversations happening. People sharing ideas, asking questions, and helping other people. Bob, that's what it's all about. We had another dinner that night with a local comedian for entertainment."
"That sounds great," Bob said.
"Thursday saw more great seminars on depreciation, conducting an inventory physical count, more discussion of how companies use MAPCON, and questions about how it could be adapted to certain situations.
"Bob, that's why the conference is held. System users coordinated it, and Mapcon staff were involved as much as we can. It's about meeting people, sharing information, and learning about not only how Mapcon is used, but developing business relationships."
"I think I understand."
"Bob, everyone I spoke with was friendly and open. This was my first MUG convention and while I had a fair idea of the activities, I benefited so much more than I anticipated."
Bob was silent for a moment. I suspected he contemplated everything I discussed.
"Now I regret missing the conference," he said.
"Let me suggest something," I said.
"Go back to your supervisor while all this is fresh in your mind. Discuss it with him. Then, keep checking the Mapcon website for the next event. In the meantime, have you employed more maintenance people who use the system?"
"You might think of signing up for an in-house training session. Training is another place to meet reps from other companies and talk about how they use the software."
"That's a great idea."
"When the next MUG conference is scheduled, remind your supervisor of your earlier conversation."
"I will," Bob said.
"Next time, you'll be happy to get MUG'd!"