Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sales 2.0 Trade Shows

I recently saw a posting on the LinkedIn Business group, starting a discussion about Trade

Shows. The person who started the discussion was interested in the effectiveness of trade

shows as a marketing vehicle. In this Blog I will talk about trade shows as one element of

the Sales 2.0 process.

What is a trade show?

Trade shows are meetings held in most major cities around the world. They are usually held

in large venues like convention centers and auditoriums, where exhibitors set up displays

showing their products, demonstrating their services. Over the last 28 years I have

attended or exhibited in hundreds of shows across the world. I have been to shows that have

focused on many diverse industries and fields. Some of the shows I have attended have

focused on:

Industrial Automation
Material Handling
Industrial Sensors
Motors and Controls
Surgery and Orthopedics
Embedded Computers
Vision and Inspection
Boston Local Businesses
Cell Phones

As you can see from the list, the shows focus on many diverse topics. How do you select a

specific show and why should your company attend one?

The Primary goal of any trade show is to meet people.

I will repeat that again. The goal of the show is to meet people. Anyone who thinks that

the goal of exhibiting at trade show is to make sales either does not know what they are

doing, or is that Sham Wow guy.

The Secondary goal is to give people your 30 second commercial.

You do have a 30 second commercial don’t you?

This is one of the secrets to trade shows.

You need to think of a trade show as a way of delivering a very small message to a targeted

population. It can either be the people that are attending the show and walking around, or

the people exhibiting the show when they take a break. An example 30 second commercial may

go like this:

Good Morning! Do you use controls?

My company, Brand U, sells Programmable Logic Controllers with an integrated color touch

screen and 32 Inputs and Outputs all for less than $1200. And we give you the programming

software for free! But wait there's more! It can even handle analog inputs and outputs and

be expanded up to 156 Inputs and Outputs.

What brand of PLC do you use now?

Notice that I start off with a friendly greeting, and then ask an open general question. I

determine if this person is a potential customer based on their response. If they are a

potential customer I continue with the 30 second commercial. If they are not a potential

customer and are just walking around the show, I wish them a nice day.

Take a look at the 30 second commercial again, and notice that I have only said the basic

minimum amount of information with the key marketing messages I want to convey. I am not

trying to teach Surgery to the person walking by, just tell them enough to get their

attention. (Yes, I have been to surgery shows. Yes, they do have teaching displays with

real body parts. Yes, it was gross.) If you try to tell someone more information than they

want to hear, they will lose interest in you and your message, and then just walk away.

Prepare your message when you are selecting the trade show at the beginning of the process,

not while you are standing on the trade show floor shaking hands.

OK, so you have said your 30 second commercial, now what?

I ended the commercial with a question. How did the person answer? Based on that answer,

you can now take the next set to follow up on your quick discussion. Ask another question:

Can I send you more information?

This is really a lead in question.

Does this person standing in front of you have a need for your product?
Is this person the decision maker who will approve the spending of money to purchase your
When do they need your product? Immediately or are they thinking of the future?
Do they seem to have a grasp of reality or are they in Dream Land?

I ask these questions as I am walking the person over to the lead collection machine.

Always rent the lead collection machine. Always get the option to download the leads as a

CSV file. Always back up the leads in multiple locations. Swipe the person’s bar code or

mag card badge, and enter the answers to the questions you just asked. Save the data.

What I have been doing very subtly is prequalifying this person as a lead into my Sales 2.0


Remember back to my last Blog about Sales 2.0 where my best rep Dominic followed up on a

lead within a few minutes of the person looking at the web site?

In this Blog I am at a trade show, and talking to a new potential customer for the Rosie

Robotic Work Cell who is in Dominic’s territory. The potential customer mentions that he is

at the show to select a robotic cell to dispense sealant on a mirror that will be used in

the 2010 Cadillac CTS. He just had his budget approved for $50,000 to automate the process

and would like to have two work stations delivered within 4 weeks. Wow!

I swipe the person’s card, into the lead collection machine, and thank him for stopping at

the booth. At the first opportunity I have, I make a backup copy of the CSV data file from

the lead collection machine and import that file into my Sales Force Automation system, and

synchronize my local data with my main database. My good friend Dominic checks his system

regularly, and since he knows that I am exhibiting at a trade show, he does a search of the

“Source of Lead” field for the name of show I am attending. Up pops the prospect

information and Dominic calls him the next day to set up a face to face meeting, where he

closes the sale if the two Rosie systems.

What a great trade show!

Seth’s Trade Show Trips and Tricks

Know your target population. If you have not exhibited at a specific show, attend the show

and walk around to get a feel for that show. Then exhibit the following year or at a

different venue. Notice the people walking around. Who are they? How are they dressed?

Where are they stopping? What is attracting them to a booth?

I watch the people's eyes as they walk past my display. You only have 5 seconds to catch

someone’s attention. People are overwhelmed with information and tend to filter things in

their brain. Displays that try to put all the technical specs about their product in size 3

font do not convey any information. Only put key points that will get people's attention,

and stop them. Then the human can do the 30 second commercial.

Think again about the target population. What problem do you solve for that target

population? What is your key point?

You are not that Sham Wow guy. Don’t overwhelm people as they walk by.

The majority of people that attend trade shows that focus on industrial products are male

engineers, and they are generally introverted. They tend to focus on tech stuff or give

away items as they walk around. Pens, flashlights, or squishy balls with your company’s

logo may sound like a great way to get your brand out there, but they all cost money.

The goal of a show is to meet people.

I bring bags of high end individually wrapped chocolates to shows. Everyone that walks by

my display, I greet, I offer them a chocolate, and then I ask the leading question. I talk

to more people than the booth next to mine who is giving out flashlights and pens. I engage

in conversations with more people than my neighbors, and I finish the show with a lot more

qualified leads to send to my sales channel. (Sorry for seeming self-centered.)

Wear comfortable shoes. Your feet and back will hurt at the end of the day.

Take breaks and walk around the show.

Drink water.

Eat lunch.

Summary of Seth’s Guide to Trade Shows 2.0

1. Chocolate
2. Meet and greet everyone
3. Ask your leading question
a. If they answer yes, then 30 second commercial
b. If they answer no, thank you for stopping by enjoy the chocolate
4. Ask follow up qualifying questions
5. Capture leads
6. Backup leads
7. Send lead to the field sales team for follow up
9. Have fun

Do you need help with your trade shows?

Sales Management Consulting can help you develop a 30 second strategy or manage the

complete show for you. Call us to talk about how we can help your company grow.

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