Top 5 bizdev mistakes at the international events 🤔


This column was originally published for on July 03, 2024

Last year, I made a very brief systematization of my participating experience at the international events – especially considering a month before that  bill_line team for the first time participated in one of the largest industry events. However, now it seems to me I told too little about the peculiarities of our team’s work and went through theses that would be obvious to a person even with little experience in this field of work.

That’s why right now I would like to focus on mistakes and decisions, the falsity of which will be shown only by direct experience of business communication at a big event. I will cite not only my own experience, but also will use the advice of colleagues who stuffed their own cones over the years of working in the industry.

#1 Big players will talk to you as equals, even if your brand is small

Many pople, having watched “Silicon Valley” or “The Wolf of Wall Street”, honestly believe talent, presentation skills and a quality product can pave the way to the mind and task manager of any market mastodon. It’s not.

Reality is not a movie where the hero gets away with everything because he is the main character. When talking about fintech, it is important to understand important rules:

  1. Almost everyone who comes to events makes a high-quality payment solutions
  2. Only large payment service providers can afford to dump commissions
  3. Due to the freedom of the market, there are no unique conditions for working with some spheres of payments, which are used in Ukraine.

That is why big brands that potentially need psp to diversify or enter new markets are reluctant to hold meetings with small fintech teams. Large companies’ bizdevs understand very well that only large banks or international payment services can provide them with the lowest commission or the fastest access to the market.

This automatically sets a “capability ceiling”. How to increase its height, and thus achieve success?

#2 Impress only with individual service and forget about big numbers

This is a very popular take by small and medium-sized fintech companies trying to emphasize their own advantage over large companies. An individual approach vs a clear script of cooperation is an analogue of the exclusivity and prestige of custom-made clothing compared to a mass market. It might have worked 5-7 years ago, but not now.

In negotiations, it is fundamentally important to immediately outline your value. A simple example to look like a “big boy”: name the number of processed transactions per month/year if you have a project with small but frequent payment amounts (for example, public transportation payments). Another option is to focus on the number of connected merchants if you are new to the market and actively expanding. If you have many merchants where users make large purchases (for example, a smartphone store), then the average transaction amount should be the main argument. The larger it is, the greater the degree of trust in your payment solution. These are effective ways to make your “capability ceiling” higher.

#3 Always schedule a meeting at your booth

When you become an exhibitor at an international event for the first time, you want to show off with your booth to everyone – because you and your colleagues came up with an area for communication, made it beautiful, etc. But there is a nuance:

  1. Others also want to be seen at their stands, sometimes for similar reasons
  2. Big companies have much larger business areas with a mandatory policy of meeting there

The solution is simple: keep in mind your thesis about an individual approach to everyone and look for a compromise. A very useful lifehack: if your meeting takes place in the first half of the day – make an offer to finalize the terms or clarify the issues later at your booth in the afternoon, where you can treat your colleague to a glass of prosecco 🙂

#4 Don’t go to event parties

So, if we talk about prosecco, the parties of large conferences are the basis of effective networking. It is there that agreements are finalized, new acquaintances are formed, and most importantly, permanent personal connections in the industry are established. Your company from Ukraine is starting to be seen as insider, because you are at a party for insiders.

#5 Reach everyone at once

Fintech, as well as IT in general, has long ceased to be a story about “breaking in with two feet and changing the market forever”. Of course, this can happen, but hoping for lottery luck and not working is the best way to become poor.

Remember that the “long game” works much more often. Could not connect with an interesting merchant or partner – be sure to try at another event. The same with those with whom you didn’t have time to communicate or who for various reasons canceled the meeting. Your consistency, self-confidence multiplied by time to improve your offer will show even the most skeptical opponent your company is worthy of trust and cooperation.