The Vision: You and your team exhibit at an important trade show, you schedule and have lots of quality meetings with customers and prospects, and generate lots of new business.
The Reality: You leave with no real qualified opportunities and few meetings of consequence, despite significant pre-show efforts to set them up. Most disappointing are those customers and prospects that didn’t show up for their appointments, preventing you from talking to someone else.
What went wrong? Nothing really, but there are factors that can hinder your ability to conduct sales meetings at trade shows.
Everybody Does It
First and foremost, know that every other exhibitor is trying to set up meetings with the same people. Participants have a limited amount of time and are often overwhelmed with calls and emails requesting meetings. Thus, they must choose carefully to take advantage of everything the trade show has to offer.
Participants often want to keep their schedule open so that they can attend presentations, walk the show, and catch up with colleagues. And for those who view trade shows as boondoggles away from work, time is typically prioritized for parties, receptions and catching up with their current vendors leaving little opportunity for you to secure time with new prospects.
Whatever incentive you offer to get attendees’ attention and schedule meetings must be compelling and worth their time (and yours). Giving away trinkets might boost foot traffic, but it won’t likely generate opportunities for productive business meetings. Likewise with hosting cocktail receptions or dinners. Your more likely to attract people who value a free drink, instead of participants with a genuine interest in learning more about the value of your offering.
The key to recruiting qualified prospects and having productive meetings at trade shows is to provide something that has significantly more value than a cocktail. So how do you incentivize people to come talk to you, and effectively separate the wheat from the chaff?
Do It Differently by Adding Value
In business, everyone wants to know how they compare to their competitors and others in their field. This is especially true at trade shows and industry events, where companies seek out ideas and resources for improving their business.
An effective way to engage trade show attendees and potential customers is with a self-service benchmarking tool. The concept is simple. Before the show, conduct a benchmarking survey that gathers information about the participants’ operations in the specific areas impacted by your offering. At the show, present each participant with a report showing how they compare to their peers. Many attendees won’t take the survey but those that do are more likely to be viable and interested prospects.
At the end of the assessment, participants can schedule an appointment to receive their individualized report at the show. Talk about a compelling reason to meet with you! And talk about separating legitimate prospects from party goers! Anyone who invests time in completing the assessment will be motivated to keep their appointment and acquire valuable insights into how they compare to their peers.
Keep in mind that this is not a trick where you withhold results to force people to meet with you. You can’t show them how they compare until you have all the results, which doesn’t occur until show time. You can also set up a kiosk at the show to capture those that didn’t participate in the pre-show assessment. This can generate on-site buzz and activity as people walk past your exhibit.
A benchmarking assessment tool provides genuine value to your prospects, and helps you build an understanding of the current market as well as your prospect list. Everybody wins, and that’s what’s important.
To improve your trade show ROI, help your prospects improve theirs. By assessing, benchmarking, and sharing insights into their competitive position, you demonstrate your commitment to your prospects’ success and your value as a solution provider.