I was asked by an exhibitor how they could increase sales, not leads, when exhibiting. An excellent question and distinction. Today’s post presents the abbreviated version of what I advised her company to do.
1. Bring a sales team to the show
If sales are the objective, you need people working on your stand that will be looking for buying signals. Sales people if, they are good at their job, are always looking for those signals. They are alert to things that will help them to close deals faster. They are also good at sniffing-out sales opportunities that other colleagues may miss.
2. Apply sales focus
Many exhibitors use their shows as lead generators, which is great. Shows are excellent for this purpose. By taking this approach though, you can be less alert to people who need to make a fast buying decision. If your stand team think the objective is only lead generation, that may be all they expect to do. To avoid this, brief everyone in advance of the event that closing sales soon after the show is a key objective. Yes, you want leads but, you want everyone’s sales radar to be operating fully too.
3. Invite current and past clients to attend the show
People and companies that have already purchased something from your business are usually your hottest prospects for new sales. OK, if you sell aircraft carriers, the next order may be some time away, but in general the principle holds true. With that in mind, use your show participation to reconnect with past clients and to structure meetings with current ones.
4. Do some homework
Pre-show, and before you invite past and current clients to see you, some updating on their situation is needed.
The best people to provide this update is your sales team. Based on information supplied by Sales, who among your past and current clients are those most likely to want or need something more from your business? Which clients could be interested in an up-sell on their past purchase?
Who are the clients that don’t know about enhancements or upgrades that are available? How could you promote those elements within invitations to meet at the show? What’s in it for your clients that will make a trip to the show worth their while? Think and construct your offers and invitations accordingly.
5. Request and organise meetings
If your offering is strong* why not ask your clients to confirm a meeting time at the show? Put together a meeting schedule. Ask which slot they would like to take? You can request that they confirm by email or a call. If they aren’t planning to attend the show, ask them to let you know that too.
Call all of the people that don’t reply. You or your sales team, has a valid reason to call: “Just checking to see if you will be taking-up our invitation to Widget 2018.”
Ideally your clients will say, “Yes” but for those that can’t attend, you now have a chance tor a quick catch-up call.
Some clients may be planning to attend but don’t want to be held to a fixed time. That’s OK. Note that the client is intending to visit and find out which day they plant to attend. Note these entries on your meeting schedule as “maybes”.
*What does a strong offer include?
The first thing; the invitation should be personalised. This means that within the copy you recognise the person as a client, past or current.
There should be a strong business case that highlights why it will be good for them to attend.
You may include a promotional gift incentive. There may well be a sales incentive, linked to your show appearance, that clients can benefit from. You might be offering live demonstrations of new products or update sessions on existing ones. There could be the offer of refreshments on the stand or dinner after show hours. Make your offer as attractive as you can to the other party.
And what about all of the other show visitors. Those that have never done business with you?
6. Hunt down sales with show visitors that have never been clients
Ultra clear messaging via stand graphics or digital screens is a must. Spell out what you do very clearly and put this in the eye-line of people walking close to your stand. In a busy show the sight lines of visitors can be obstructed until they are very close to your location.
Show visitors will want to discover new products or solutions during their visit. They will also want to cover as much of a show as possible in a limited amount of time. Clear signage and messaging makes it easier for them to find what they are looking for.
7. Utilise the power of “new”
I’ve mentioned in other articles (like this one), the value that show visitors put on new products and innovations. To see new products and services is the biggest reason given for attending trade shows. And new, doesn’t have to mean a totally brand new product. It can include upgrades and modifications or new applications.
The important thing to remember is that for show visitors who have never seen your company before, most of what you will be offering is “new” as far as they are concerned.
8. Use screening questions to highlight sales opportunities
When you and your stand team engage with show visitors, use phrases and questions that can provide clues to short term sales requirements.
- “Are you looking for anything specific at the show today?”
- “What is your main project or task at the moment? Is this something we could help you with?’
- “When will you be placing your next order for this component?”
- “Are you happy with your current supplier?”
- “What is the biggest problem you are facing in your work right now?”
9. Remember: Trade shows shorten the sales process
Trade shows can massively shorten the sales process line. They can cut out lots of the steps that a business usually has to go through to win business with a new customer.
At a show, the buyer has already met your company and received details about your product or service. Soon after the show, they will receive your follow-up call and perhaps have a meeting with a member of your sales team.
From the information collected at the show, your company already knows something about the buying process of the prospective client. You’ve heard first hand about the requirements and service levels they expect. You probably also know when the first order will be placed and can gear-up production accordingly. In short, you can be in the best possible position to respond to a quotation or an actual order.
This is why screening and interviewing of visitors as part of your lead gathering strategy is so important. You must obtain as much buying information as possible. The more you know, the more likely it is that you can jump ahead in a company’s buying process.
10. Increase your visibility around the show
When it comes to attracting visitors to your stand, the more places your company can be visible around a show, the better. Extra opportunities to shine include the seminar or conference programme; the New Product Showcase feature and the Show Guide (always submit your entry).
Promoting your expertise through white papers and reports in advance of an event can also help you attract more of the right people. Additionally, there are sponsorship and branding opportunities that can be booked via the organiser.
Following-up is essential
Following-up your leads is of course essential, to making sales – see this article for more on this important subject.
Finally: Leads are great but sales are better! If you want more orders to result from exhibiting, take a sales-focused approach and put these simple and easy to apply tips into action at your next event.
To greater sales!