Monday Mornings with Madison

It’s Showtime – Part 2

Making the Most of the Show

Once again, you or your company is sending a team to attend the biggest trade show or conference of the year.  The top salespeople have been approved to attend.  A lot of pre-planning was done to ensure that the company’s investment in sending a team to the show will generate a great return.  After all, management will want to know after the show if the money spent was worthwhile. It is important to ensure that attendance at any trade show generates a solid return.

Preparing in advance is the first step.  Everyone on the team needs to understand the goals for the conference and that the conference experience should improve business and enhance the bottom line.  Here are practical tips for staff to get the most out of every trade show or conference attended.

Here are some tips to ensure that attendance at any trade show is a worthwhile investment.

Identify Goals

  • The first step is to set the goals for the show.  Is the goal to identify a new vendor for a service?  Is it to solve a particular problem?  Is it to spot new opportunities?  Is it to shop the competition and see how competitors are positioning themselves?  Is the goal to attend an educational session on industry best practices?  Is it to network and meet at least 10 new prospects?  Perhaps there are several goals.  That’s fine.  But the goals drive the actions, so it is important that the each goal be specific, measurable and achievable.  Once goals are clear, it’s time to hit the show floor.

Walk The Show

  • Before venturing into the Exhibit Hall, get an updated show guide.  If there isn’t yet a plan for how to tackle the show, develop one.  Make sure name badges are in plain sight.
  • If a group from the company is attending, divide and conquer for maximum coverage.  If a manager wants to take the opportunity to do some training, stick together and coach others on what is important.
  • While walking through the Exhibit Hall, ask if literature and/or samples can be mailed instead of carrying them.  Better yet, ask if materials are available digitally.  Most vendors are equipped with laptops and often have digital files that they can quickly send.
  • Don’t linger too long at each booth and don’t stay in a conversation with a company with which you’re not interested in doing business unless you are just shopping a competitor.
  • Always be prepared to jot information.  For those who are old-school, have a pen and notebook ready for notes and use business cards to jot down information on the back. For tech buffs, use a smart phone to jot notes, take photos and add contact information to your contact manager.

Connect with Others

  • While virtual relationships are the rage, nothing replaces the energy of face-to-face interactions.  Network with industry colleagues and touch base with trade association members.
  • Keep an ear tuned to what successful players are doing with industry products. What new products or services are there?   Which innovations are being embraced?   How are industry changes affecting business?  Compare what your company does versus what competitors are doing.
  • If the goal is to solve problems or improve the business, attend seminars and workshops if available.  Learn as much as possible.  Enhanced knowledge gained at the show often translates into sales. Ask others who aren’t direct competitors what type of marketing and sales tactics are yielding results.
  • Be inquisitive on specific sales approaches. Listen to the buzz around the show and find out the best way to prospect to different customer demographics or identify prospects that are not being tapped.
  • Invite suppliers, manufacturers, journalists, analysts, industry superstars, trade association members, friends and colleagues to coffee or dinner. Conversation, insights and input gained from these interactions can be wonderfully enlightening and might lead to a sales approach that ultimately produces hundreds of thousand dollars in new business. However, never forget that business is business.  Behavior at such informal settings should always remain professional.
  • Leverage social media during the show.  For example, tweet observations about the show.  While at the trade fair or business conference event, tweet about presentations attended or about new contacts made.  On LinkedIn, request to link to new vendors or experts that provided valuable information.  Re-tweet the blog postings and press releases of companies that are sales targets. Re-tweeting is a great way to get noticed.

If every person follows these tips when attending trade shows and conferences, there is sure to be a greater return on the investment. The company will do more business or improve on the product or services delivered.  Either way, it is a win for the company and that makes the expense worthwhile.

Quote of the Week

“The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” Confucius

 

© 2013, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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