Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows and Events - Part 2
In part one of “Getting the Most from Your Trade Shows & Events”, we covered the importance of selecting the right events that match up well for your business and how to plan for them to maximize your opportunities. In this part two edition, we will highlight the components that address team preparation, engaging booth visitors, networking and follow-up plans for a successful event.
Create a winning team that makes your company shine
Committing to a trade show, conference or event means you have an investment in it which requires the right team of people to represent your company. You’ll need to have a well-balanced team consisting of those that have good customer service and selling skills, technical acumen, and an ability to interact with visitors. The last thing you want to do is assign someone to attend who is scared out of their mind to meet people. And, don’t just send your sales people without first defining their roles and responsibilities. In fact, your entire team needs to know exactly what is expected of them and what the objectives are for participating in the chosen event.
Remember, attending an event isn’t a free vacation – it requires preparation beforehand and attentiveness while at the event. Prepare your team by getting them excited about representing your company and enthusiastic about the opportunity of engaging with prospects to generate business opportunities.
At most trade shows, aisle traffic can be heavy and scheduled times for exhibit hall openings can result in a flurry of activity that is short lived. Because of this, you will want to be fully prepared and ready to engage with visitors to determine who is a prospect and who needs to be encouraged to keep moving. Wasting time on non-prospects means you are missing opportunities to spend time with those who need your solution offering or product. To avoid this scenario, quickly assess a visitor through a few qualifying questions to determine what to do next. Do it professionally and with courtesy as some visitors may represent partnership opportunities, become future prospects or result in good media contacts.
For those that pass your qualifying criteria, have an action plan in place for next steps. Capture this in your CRM system so that follow-up plans are properly executed. You’ll want to do this for all of your visitors so that your CRM status codes indicate whether a visitor is a non-lead, prospect, partner, media contact, etc.
It's more than a trade show - harvest the opportunities
Take advantage of the entire event beyond your exhibit. Trade shows normally coincide with a conference that includes educational break-out sessions and many networking opportunities. These represent great ways to meet those who may not stop by your exhibit. The food court is another place to mingle with others and introduce yourself while taking a break from your booth responsibilities. Many times, great conversations take place at break-out sessions, special networking events and in the food court. Don’t miss these opportunities. Put together a scheduled plan to attend these as time permits while at the trade show or event.
Follow-up for succcess and reap the rewards
Getting the most out of trade shows and events boils down to your post-show follow-up plan. An alarming high percentage of trade show leads are never followed up. It’s very easy to return from an event exhausted with a shifted focus on catching up in the office instead of executing a follow-up plan. Without a system or plan in place, it’s not hard to understand why this occurs. But, it doesn’t have to be this way and you should never find yourself in this situation.
Too much time and effort have already been invested by your company to forsake this process. A follow-up plan must be developed that clearly indicates what will occur with every contact met at your event - - including who will do it, when and why. Because you captured your contacts at the event with your CRM, you will already have their statuses and be on your way to implementing an effective follow-up plan.
This activity is where your potential pay-off will occur. This is where you will determine if your event was worthwhile and if your investment will generate a healthy return. This is where it all happens to ensure you get the most out of your trade shows and events.