Are you getting the ROI you need from your trade show investment?


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Trade shows are potentially one of the best ways to sell your product and to lose money all at the same time.
Learn the system that will make sure you get every last sale you need from a trade show!

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Are you getting the ROI you need from your trade show investment?

  1. 1. Are you getting the ROI you need from yourtrade show investment? Learn the system that will makesure you get every last sale you need from a trade show! Copyright 2004, 2011 © Permission to reproduce granted from Matrix Impact 2011
  2. 2. IntroductionTrade shows are potentially one of the bestways to sell your product and to lose money allat the same time. Best Practices LLC reportsthat nearly 90% of all companies that attendtrade shows lose out on 50%-60% of totalopportunities to sell their product. The reasonsrange from poor planning, bad boothmanagement, no ability to draw traffic, all theway to terrible follow-up practices and more!Depending on your average sale size this isanywhere from a small fortune to 90 days ofsales down the drain.It is a scary proposition but it is also a realitythat we have to deal with. The question is how?This white paper will detail out for you step bystep what needs to be done to assure you asuccessful trade show experience. Now, therest is up to you!
  3. 3. The Impact Trade Show System © The Critical Pre-Show List Everything that has to happen BEFORE you get to the show Theme: What is the one consistent message that you want everybody to take from seeing you at the show? Make It An Event: Crowds draw crowds. Plan to have regularly scheduled events (3 per 8 hour day is the model); people will want to see what “all the hubbub” is about. Plan solid value differentiated activities. Author signings, mini-trainings, a strategic industry ally or independent expert speakers are some good examples (contact me for others). Please understand, I am not advocating cheesy toy giveaways or fishbowl drawings per say, everything you do needs to tie to your theme. Something that gives a good business reason for people to come to see you. Attendance: The most important thing that needs to be done is to condition your customer base to the fact that you will be exhibiting at the tradeshow. You may say “all our customers know that we go to these shows” or even worse “these are the biggest shows in our industry everybody goes to them” both responses are HUGE miscalculations. Even if you don’t take into account gas prices, travel headaches and 9/11 this mindset is setting you up for failure. Have formal invitations made; include what the theme is, what the events are and what attendees will take from the show that will help them in their job.
  4. 4. Be creative and make it series. Send regular correspondence tied to a theme specific, small promotional item. You should also consider conducting pre-tradeshow events (webinars or live in-territory presentations) that tease the content. Over the years Matrix has developed 100’s of these programs contact me if you are looking for ideas. Contact your customer base at least twice by mailings/faxes or emails then schedule at least one follow-up call to confirm. The sales staff attending the show should be making pre-show calls. They should be scheduling booth meetings, breakfast meetings, lunch meetings, dinner meetings and recreational meetings. If you are having an issue with scripting let me know I have developed a library of them. Staffing: DO NOT UNDER STAFF to save money. Nothing costs more than lost opportunity. Travel costs are insignificant to lost business and the image of your company as too cheap to staff properly. Don’t forget to advertise: Any ads you have going out mention it, schedule a blitz of networking and association meetings. Your website MUST have a posted announcement and also cross-promote with related, complementary companies. SOCIAL MEDIA: use it! There are many strategies give me a call to sort through the haze. Logistics: The great overlooked killer of tradeshows. Where is your booth in relation to competition, allies, exits/entrances, food, bathrooms and main traffic areas? Do you get electric? Do you need internet or telephone connection? Is carpet provided and how about tables and chairs? Is it BYOB/B (Bring Your Own Banners/Bunting)? Wouldn’t it be great to have a water cooler at your booth? How about move in and setup, how is that done? Are there certain times and do you need to schedule all these things? Do you need to bring duck tape and tools? What about Windex and paper towels? These and more need to be addressed or it could very embarrassing.
  5. 5. Included in logistics are the 3 Absolute Commandments of BoothDesign. Now, of course, there are all types and sizes of booths, somegrandiose and others simple. My advice here rings loudest with the10x10 and 10x20, but the bedrock principles behind theCommandments are sound for any type or size of booth.1st Commandment of Booth Design: Never put a table in the very frontof the booth that creates a “WALL” between you and the attendees.Your booth should be inviting and open, allowing attendees to enter asthey please. If you need a table, put it on one of the sides. If you need 2tables, put one on the side and one on the back display wall ONLY if youare not covering your graphics. Booth design by Monsters Unlimited2nd Commandment of Booth Design: Don’t KILL your display withEVERY word ever associated with your business. The picture above is aGREAT example of what a display should look like.
  6. 6. Many companies “think” if they don’t put up a scrabble board of wordsattendees won’t know what they do.Your SALES PEOPLE ARE WHO YOU WANT COMMUNICATING, notwords on the display. Sales people are there to translate what it is youprovide for customers. Your tagline/benefit statement should be theONLY words on your display wall. There can be as many product andapplication pictures as is tasteful and fits the design but pictures only.The old adage is never truer “a picture is worth a thousand words.”3rd Commandment of Booth Design: If you can’t afford to have yourbooth PROFESSIONALLY designed you SHOULD NOT be spendingmoney on a trade show. Do not make the mistake of looking 2nd even 3rdrate. You will be hard pressed to ever live that perception down. Belowis the initial idea by the customer for booth design BEFORE theydecided to find a professional graphic designer. Quite a difference don’t you think?
  7. 7.  Countdown Schedule: Assemble your list of to-dos in a 60-90 day pre- show countdown schedule with milestone events, benchmark activities and the responsible parties (call/email me if you would like a sample calendar).Set Goals and Track Their Success!You need to set activity and productivity goals for your show staff. Forexample, set goals for badges scanned, contacts made, informationalprofiles attained, appointments and demos set on an hour-to-hour and day-to-day basis. Then reward them on a similar basis for their attainment (giftcertificates or cash awards are good). Also have an overall show winnerwith a reward for most effective staffer. Make going to a tradeshow anhonor not drudgery and reward the best for being the best. A trade show is a business trip to promote and develop your business not a vacation to see a different city. I think sometimes we forget that.You also need to track everybody’s statistics show-to-show. Who is thebest, when and where are they the best? Was it just a fluke or are theyconsistently strong performers? Then with this information in hand, you canchoose the right staff for the right tradeshow and maximize your investment(if you need tools for tracking let me know and I can provide them for you).The hardest part of any tradeshow is maintaining the hour-to-hour, day-to-day motivation level of your team. This “intangible” is what it takes to
  8. 8. represent your product/service with the excitement and enthusiasm neededto be successful. You can maintain those levels if you make it fun, while stillachieving your business objectives. Most good business people love tocompete, just give them the structure to do so without making the booth abattleground. I promise you will notice the results!How much time do you actually have?When I say how much time you have, I don’t mean when the conventionhall is open and you are standing in your booth. I am talking about virtuallyevery minute that is not spent sleeping and showering (notice I did notmention eating). Assuming an average show start time of 10 am and closetime of 4:30 pm over a 3 day period you have 20 hours at your booth or 6.5hours a day. Not including the 5 additional hours (8 am to 10 am and 5 pmto 8 pm) that you have everyday. That comes to 35 hours of primebusiness development time on average that you have for every tradeshowevent!“Hey John, when do I eat?” Good question! You eat 3 times a day if that iswhat you’re used to, but there is one small twist, don’t waste time eatingalone. Having a meal with your co-workers or eating with friends and familydoesn’t cut it! Utilize your mealtimes eating and meeting with potentialclients and strategic alliances (remember business trip not vacation). If youdid your calls and preparation before the show then you should have some“eat and meets” lined up before you get there. Always keep some timeopen for new contacts that are established during the show itself.
  9. 9. The Show Itself Booth Etiquette The longer I attend tradeshows the more I see ATROCIOUS booth habits; it is simply amazing to me. This guy rather stuff his face then talk to customers IN HIS BOOTH, completely unconscionable! Two staffers in thebooth, one texting, one eating, NEITHER READY TO TALK TO ATTENDEES!
  10. 10. Here is The Big List of Booth NEVERS: SIT: That’s right don’t sit. You look like you are lounging and making an effort to get up. Stand, be alert, be attentive and BE READY! EAT: Why would you ever even think of doing this? Food spiddle anyone? Do you want the booth to smell like a calzone? DRINK: Drink spiddle anyone? Spills on collateral information, promotional items, displays or customers are never good. TELL OFF COLOR JOKES: Who is behind you, who can hear you, you never know. TALK ABOUT THE GREAT BAR YOU WENT TO LAST NIGHT: See above. TALK ABOUT BAD ATTENDEES OR CUSTOMERS: See above. TALK ON CELL: What are you bored? What happens if a customer comes in when you are chatting up your wife? TEXTING: See above. WORK ON COMPUTER: In the hotel BEFORE the show and after the show is where computer work is done unless it is part of the display. Really dude? Slouched over texting when the other staffers are engaged with customers, unbelievable! These 3 are happy as can be and should be. They just had a BIG lunch. You see it right on their display table…
  11. 11. The 20/10/5 RuleThe thing to remember is not every attendee that becomes a lead will enteryour booth of their own accord. You have to ENGAGE with them. Make eyecontact with attendees at 20 feet. Have some fun and be fun to talk to! At10 feet say hello and use broad, inviting questions to start the conversationand at 5 feet ask a business/product specific question.The one thing you CAN NOT do is WAIT until an attendee comes to you.Think of it like the old Yellow Pages jingle “reach out, reach out and touchsomeone.” I promise if you don’t follow this process some other competitorwill.Lead with broad questionsLet’s remember that human beings are, by nature, inquisitive. The trick is tohelp that natural curiosity flourish. When an attendee approaches yourbooth ALWAYS lead with a broad, open-ended question (Examples: “Whatkind of questions might you have?” “What are you interested in today?”“What are you looking for today” “How can I help you today?). Please noteI did not include any question that could end in a yes or no. Open-endednot yes/no questions are KEY to building rapport and starting conversation.Benefit Introduction StatementWhen you have done your job correctly the attendee will ask who you areand what you do. If you cannot articulate the “who and what” in a briefstatement you will lose their interest quickly! You MUST have a short (2sentences maximum) statement of what your company does and what itmeans to the customer. (Examples: “We improve performance in yoursales, marketing and customer service systems.” “Matrix will help you gainmarket share while decreasing your operating expenses.” “We improveyour revenue generation system while helping you to retain currentcustomers.”)
  12. 12. Questions with a purposeNow that you have started a conversation going ask for a couple ofspecifics about their business or themselves. You need to quickly narrow to2-3 key need areas that your product or service can satisfy. If you listenedto their responses to previous questions it will give you an idea whatdirection to go.Some Examples of Questions with a purpose: “What is your biggestfrustration in your sales and marketing?” “Are you generating enoughleads?” “Do you ever lose sales to lower price competition?”)Gauge their interestIf you have prepared properly, you will be talking to 100’s of people overthe next couple of days. So it is important to be able to prioritize yourcontacts. The way to do that is to ask some tightly defined questions.(Examples: “When are you looking to start improving your revenuegeneration?” “How important is it to you to increase your sales?” “What isyour main priority, improve your sales system or escalate your customerretention ratio?”)Set Specifics and CloseYou generated good interest in your product or service and the attendeegave you indications that they are actively ready to move ahead, now go forthe natural progression of the relationship. Set a follow-up activity with adefinitive date and time. (Examples: “I should come out so I can evaluateyour____. When next week would be best?” “I’ll follow up with you (date)with the information you requested, in the meantime let’s schedule adiscussion for us to evaluate your situation in more depth”)Wrap upMake sure you have obtained ALL of their pertinent contact information;thank them for their time and politely move on to the next attendee. You areNEVER rude, if they need a little more time you spend it, if they want to talk
  13. 13. about some specifics do it, but always keep an eye on the situation and beready to help the next attendee.You don’t want to secure one sale at the expense of three others.Preparation is the key. The more you have prepared the easier you will beable to move in and out of each situation smoothly.Who is the Tire-Kicker?We all know this type of tradeshow attendee. They walk by the booth andask some oblique questions or they may appear to listen to you “oh sopolitely” or they will just kind of look around your booth trying not to makeeye contact as to avoid talking to you.There are 3 main types of Tire-Kicker, they are the Opportunity Killer, theHidden Treasure or the Solitary Figure. The key is quickly determiningwhich type you have and acting on that recognition. If they show somepromise you want to entice them but not spend your tradeshow lifetimedoing it. If they are leaning the other way you need to filter them out ofprime booth space in a very polite way.Making ContactStay awake and pay attention, notice where they are looking and spendingthe bulk of their time then follow the steps previously discussed. Butremember they will do everything they can to either “not to talk to you” or toengage you in a trivial conversation. So the goal is to quickly classify andhandle them accordingly.The best way to do that is to skip the broad questions and lead withquestions based on your observation of their interests (Examples: “Hellomy name is John, you appear to be interested in our S.I.T. Blitz System,what type of questions might you have?” “You’ve spent a lot of time lookingat our Hire-Right© System, are you currently looking to add some newsalespeople?”).
  14. 14.  If you have a Solitary Figure, they will give you the “I have no questions just looking” type of response. Give the S.F.’s one or two more shots with impact questions (Examples: “Are you interested in improving your monthly sales numbers?” “What types of things have you been doing to improve your marketing efforts?”) These questions are direct and to the point, so if you still get negative “runaround responses” let them know you are there to answer any other questions, make sure they are aware of where your collateral material is, trade any pertinent contact data, thank them for visiting your booth and actively look for the next potential prospect.  If they are a Hidden Treasure they will respond affirmatively or at least tell you the real direction that they are looking, they probably just wanted some attention and a little prodding. Now go back to the steps previously discussed and follow the conversation to its natural conclusion.  The Opportunity Killer will respond similar to the H.T. but as soon as you try to pin them down on details their answers will get murky. Just like with the Solitary Figure, give them one or two shots with specific questions if they still won’t get into the particulars let them know you are there to answer any other questions, make sure they are aware of where your collateral material is, trade any pertinent contact data, thank them for visiting your booth and actively look for the next potential visitor.There is another situation that can develop with two types of Tire-Kickersand it’s during slow times at the show. When the Opportunity Killer orSolitary Figure comes in and we may not be very busy, we think toourselves “There’s nothing else going on, I’m going to convert them to aHidden Treasure”.DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME getting caught in the trap of your ego. You willexpend enormous energy and de-motivate yourself only to realize you can’tchange their true nature and you will probably miss one or two more REALopportunities along the way.
  15. 15. Post Show Processes1) Get Cracking On Contacting!EVERY contact from the show gets a thank you note or thank you cardEVERYONE! Just because somebody does not buy now does not meanthey won’t be shopping later. This can go out no later than the DAY you getback from the show NO EXCEPTIONS! If you have the means, copy andforward or transmit digitally all leads to your home office while you are stillat the show.If you set up a team to send the Thank You’s, these can go out BEFOREyou come back from the show. Just make sure that you have done yourplanning and the office has some pre-signed cards or letters from you andthe other sales staff. Or you can send them out yourself during downtimeback at the hotel. This is your 1st chance to demonstrate your level ofservice commitment don’t miss out on the opportunity!2) Establish a no nonsense process to prioritize all contacts that havebeen madeYou need to get to the most probable opportunities first so you can’t affordto waste time. Start by asking yourself these sorting questions. 1. Did they provide all needed contact information? 2. Did they relate to you 3-5 potential need areas for your product/service? 3. Did they discuss with you their buying criteria and/or time frame for a purchase? 4. Did they indicate that a budget has been established for this product? 5. Did they indicate that they were actively shopping for your type of product/service?Rank your leads by number of yes’s and quality responses to the abovequestions. Your priority should be to call those that have the most yes’sand quality responses first and order the rest of the leads from there. Thetendency is to give the most weight to questions 4 and 5. I understand thatthinking. You can’t allow yourself to get stuck on those 2 questions. Justbecause a budget has not been established or they are not activelyshopping doesn’t mean put them in the back of the line.
  16. 16. Each company, product and situation is different. Use your best judgmentand don’t bias the results. Remember the key is to have a prioritizationprocess and not just “grab-bag’” all the hard work and money you havespent on the tradeshow.3. CallsStart your calling as soon as you are sure (by date) that your Thank You’shave been received, this should be as soon as the day after the show andNO LATER than 3 days (allowing for mail delivery).Couple of key points to remember A) Never make the mistake of making the first call unprepared. Do your homework. If they wanted specific questions answered have them ready to go. When salespeople let this happen the prospect feels like just another member of the herd. Start creating a value differential right NOW! B) DO NOT STOP CALLING UNTIL YOU HAVE REACHED EVERYBODY. They are all potential sales, now you have to qualify them. You don’t want to touch base with somebody for the first time 1 month after the show. Think about how you would feel if you gave your phone number to somebody and it took him or her a month to call you, whether it is business or personal. You may as well use that lead as notepaper or just throw it out altogether.4) Follow-upEstablish a continual prospecting process for the leads that don’t go intothe sale cycle. Make sure you keeping touching them in a high value addedway. You never know when they are going to go into an active buyingprocess so you need to “appear” you are there all the time. If you arelooking for ideas give me a call and we can talk about lead nurturingprocesses. Alright, that is the beginning, middle and end of the Impact Trade Show System©. But we aren’t quite done yet...
  17. 17. Tradeshow Checklist Avoid these to-dos at your own peril Review Impact Trade Show System. Be prepared, the Boy scouts don’t have the copyright on this one. The 20/10/5 rule: Make eye contact with attendees at 20 feet, at 10 feet say hello and ask inviting question, start the conversation and at 5 feet ask business product specific question, if you don’t some other competitor will. Establish hourly goals for contacts and appointments, it helps make the time fly. Don’t sit in the booth, now is not the time to sit back and relax. The converse of that is letting customers “Have a Seat”. Most peoples feet are killing them on a trade show floor. "My dogs are barking" is a common expression attendees make. Give them a place to sit down and youve got yourself a captive audience. The second best thing to sitting down is offering something to drink, like water. Its small and thoughtful and communicates that youre in touch with the moment and the prospect. Have backup plans, extra samples etc. or miss out on the opportunity bus. Be aware of personal space, people don’t like touchy feely in a group setting. Shake hands but beware the shoulder touch and other generic shows of affection. Visit the competition, allies and potential customers on the show floor. They are out there, FIND THEM!
  18. 18.  ALWAYS ask questions don’t present. Ask Before You Speak: More often than not, I get pitched on show floors from companies that will never need to do business with me. Show booth personnel could save lots of wind power by making sure theyre selling to someone whos in their target audience. Always get one of two outcomes from an attendee 1) A progression (appointment, definitive follow-up time and date to take relationship to the next step) 2) A walk away (nothing rude just a reminder that you have other people to talk to and thank them for their time.) No in betweens, one or the other has to be achieved or you waste time and potential opportunity. Lead Follow Up! This starts immediately after first day is over. If I attend a tradeshow and my badge gets scanned, and it takes a week to get a call from a salesperson the question I have is, "What does your company do again?" Also any system you use should tag notes to the contact data so that the follow up call becomes more relevant.
  19. 19. The most important thing about this system is using it. It does not work itself. I promise, when used, you will see the successfulresults you want andneed from any trade show!