How effective are trade shows as a selling opportunity? They’re not if all you do is show up and think business is going to fall into your lap. You have to look at trade shows as merely a platform from which to prospect and sell.
Let’s break this down and look at what we can do purely from a prospecting standpoint.
Remember that having a booth or being a sponsor is certainly a positive, but it’s not essential. There are numerous ways you can get business by just attending, and it starts with being visible and engaging. What does that mean?
If you’re attending from your company with another person, don’t hang out together. It blows my mind how multiple people from the same company will attend a trade show and then spend the entire time hanging out with each other. If this is your strategy, skip the trade show and just head to the beach.
Your results from a trade show begin long before it starts. Let prospects and customers know that you will be there. Set up times to meet with others, and when you do, make sure it is in a very public place. I like public places because I want to be seen by other people. I hope that as I’m meeting with someone, I will see somebody else to whom I can introduce to them. In so doing, I hope others do the same for me.
Be deliberate with the breakout sessions. Attend the ones your prospects are most likely to attend. I also prefer sitting in the back to be able to see who else is in the room — people I may want to make sure I say hello to at the end. Attending sessions means sticking around after the session ends, as that’s the time the truly great discussions with other people will take place.
When you’re not busy with people, spend your time at the entrance and exit areas of the trade show. If you’re going to see people, they’ll have to pass by you. Same goes for a hotel lobby. I can’t begin to tell you the number of new clients I’ve picked up simply by being in visible location.
The objective of meeting people at a trade show or conference is not to sell to them, unless you have a pre-arranged meeting. A trade show is a time to create a relationship and a follow-up conversation. I would much rather leave a trade show with three business cards of people with whom I’ve developed a good relationship than with 30 business cards of people I know zero about.
After the show is over, it is is imperative you follow up within 48 hours. If you wait days to connect with them, they won’t remember you at all. Your first connection is simply to deepen the relationship and to share a key insight you picked up at the event they will remember.
After you’ve had an exchange of comments, then you can begin to probe deeper about their issues. Don’t blow it by suddenly sending them your beautiful capabilities presentation about how wonderful you are. When you make the focus about them, it’s amazing how the opportunity for which you’re waiting will materialize.
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Copyright 2018, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results