Trade-shows represent a customer interaction point where you can reach a large number of decision makers. However, this type of event can be very expensive without an understanding of what it is and a solid plan to cultivate sales from it. Follow this brief guide for trade-show success.
A trade-show is a great place to:
present new products,
answer general questions,
develop leads for sales team,
share news about company,
address customer concerns,
build awareness of your offer,
There are certain steps you can take to make the most of each trade-show in both cultivating sales and existing customer relationships. These steps include:
Present, Share what you have to offer with an audience with a specific need. Since most trade-shows focus on a single industry or topic, orient your presentation around solutions for that specific niche. Your booth addresses a certain theme within the trade-show theme, but makes available other information desired by visitors.
Collect, Give visitors to your booth a reason to leave you more information. Often give-aways and gimmicks are used, but the best information collection tool is offering to send detailed information to prospects via the mail. Attendees will have plenty of things to carry, why give them heavy white-papers when they could be sent (and received) at a time more conducive to actually reading them.
Follow-on, Literature fulfillment should be soon after the trade-show. Attendees are going to expect to receive information about your company 1 to 2 days after the trade-show ends-- anything later than that says they aren't important. If possible start fulfillment before your trade-show team wraps up, use an integrated CRM system that synchronizes with someone at your office that handles materials fulfillment.
Qualify, Send your sales team only the leads most likely to purchase. Have a system in place to fully qualify each trade-show lead before starting your sales process. Plan this system before your trade-show, even incorporate it's elements in how you attract visitors to your booth. Remember, you're spending money on trade-shows to grow your business, not for your ego.
Sell, Address qualified leads in close proximity to the event. Most attendees will forget about the trade-show weeks or months after they return to their busy offices. It is very important to follow up with each qualified lead within 7 business days after the event. If this isn't possible, your sales team should make at least a first contact within that period. Make sure the prospect knows why you are calling and where you got their information.
After your trade-show and all literature is sent to those who requested it, be sure to:
document lessons learned about,
mark the source of each lead,
useful to track value,
great contextual reference for materials,
quantify value of trade-show,
document any marketing collateral used,
metrics are key to understanding,
related materials to actions,
maintain marketing integration,
Notice I didn't say plan for the same event next year. You won't know how valuable this trade-show was until you start converting leads to sales. Documenting these elements gives you a baseline for future analysis to understand if such events are profitable for you. In 3-months you will have some hard numbers to work with.