The trade show should be taken very seriously as a business opportunity. It is an opportunity to meet more prospective buyers face to face in one day than your sales people will potentially meet during a whole year! It is about face to face interaction. However the trade show environment is not a typical sales environment. Seldom will you have an opportunity to close a multi-million deal there and then! What the environment does offer you however is the opportunity to meet new prospects potentially in the market for your product or service.
It allows you to go through two or three steps of the sales cycle efficiently without having to go through gatekeepers to the key decision maker. Your key trade show objective should involve a clear strategy of how to get your sales staff face to face with the show visitors.
Identify and Set Reasonable Objectives – Marketing v Sales
Very often the Sales Department will have a very different objective to the Marketing Department for the same show. The Marketing department wants to launch a new product; the Sales department wants to write orders; the Marketing department wants to communicate a corporate message; the Sales department wants to meet prospects and customers. It is vital that both departments have a common company objective and that all people involved “buy in” to the objectives. As always the objectives need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Dependant. These can be set for each department; and then broken down to each person attending the event so that everyone has clear understanding of what they need to do to make the show a success. You need to set reasonable expectations as to what will make your show a success. Is it the number of leads you generate; Is it the volume of orders? Is it simply the footfall to the booth? It is also very important that the objectives are reviewed after the show so that you identify any areas for improvement for your next trade show event.
You have heard of the phrase “It’s a numbers game”. Well with trade shows it truly is.
Your objectives should be based on how many leads you need to generate from the show so that you can be in profit from the show. To work this out you should know your sales people’s closure rates and your profit margins from your sales. Once you know this – each person can be given a target to achieve in terms of generating new leads from the show. These targets can even then be broken down to activity on an hourly basis.
Man the booth with the right staff.
How many times have you seen staff members at a trade show; that are whinging that they hate trade shows and that they have 10 million better things to do?
Having enthusiastic staff at the booth makes a huge difference to visitor perception and interaction. It’s a fine line selecting staff for trade shows. There are some that just want to go for the jolly; some that go for freebie collecting; and some that just want to get out of the office and there are those that go against their will.
You should select staff based on those who can communicate; are enthusiastic about the show; and willing to be part of a team that has one common objective; to generate more business for the company. They should also be very positive people; with a great smile and with customer facing experience. Taking a technical guy with no people skills does not work; even if he does know all the answers to tough technical questions!
Make sure the staff members manning the booth are all made aware of and trained in your key products and your show objectives. Also make sure that everyone has FUN and enjoys the event.
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