There is a big difference between leads and sales. It’s important to understand this distinction. When exhibiting, your primary goal is to increase your sales. After all, leads are great, but sales are much better. Here is a short version of what you should do to improve your sales numbers when you exhibit at a trade show.
Always have some backup – bring your sales team with you
A good salesperson can spot buying signals from a mile away. It’s what makes them so good at their jobs. Therefore, you should always bring your sales team with you to exhibits. They’ll be on the lookout and will quickly spot a sales opportunity other members of your team might have missed. They are also more adept at closing the deals. Thus, having your sales team will do wonders for your sales.
Focus on what matters – sales should be the principal objective
Exhibiting on a trade show isn’t your first rodeo, and you surely know that you should use them as lead generators. And that’s great since trade shows are excellent for this purpose. However, if you’re only focusing on the leads, you’re missing out on other opportunities. Therefore, while focusing on leads is important, it shouldn’t be the sole objective of your stand team. The best thing to do is to brief your team beforehand. Make sure they know that the fundamental goal is an increase in sales. Of course, you want leads, but the primary focus should be on closing sales soon after the trade show. Therefore, everyone should keep their eyes open for any buying signals and sales opportunities.
Spread the word around – invite past and current clients
Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to reconnect with clients who have already purchased something from you. As a rule of thumb, those clients are your best prospects for new sales. Sure, if you’re selling yachts you might have to wait a while until your former client makes another purchase, but, you get the picture.
Do your research
While your past and current clients are the best sales prospects, that doesn’t mean you should invite them to the trade show and hope for the best. You need to do some research before the show, and familiarise yourself with their situation. Again, you should go to your sales team, as they will have the updates you need. This research will give you insight into where you are most likely to make a sale. You should have the information who among your clients, past and current ones, is interested in upgrades and enhancements. Find out who needs something more from your business, and who is interested in an up-sale.
You should know all this information by heart before the show, so you could properly plan how you are going to incorporate all those elements in the proposals for the show. While constructing offers and invitations for your clients, always keep in mind that you should showcase all the benefits your clients can expect.
Face-to-face meetings are crucial
Face-to-face meetings are vital, and trade shows are the perfect place to conduct them. If you have invited your clients to come and see you at the show, and you are confident that your offer is strong, ask them to RSVP whether they are coming or not. Contact all of your clients via email before the show to see if they are coming. You can also offer them your schedule, and ask them which meeting time works best for them. That will let them know that you are focused on them and that you are thoughtful enough to worry about their timetable. On the other hand, some people don’t like to be constricted by a strict schedule. You can put those clients down as “maybes” for an in-person meeting after you note which day they are visiting the trade show.
Some of your clients might not reply to your emails. You should call them. After all, you have a valid reason to do so. Additionally, a call feels more personal, and that might get you a meeting you’ve been hoping for. Therefore, your sales team can call those who haven’t responded to your emails. Maybe they’ll say they are coming after all. If not, the call is still an excellent opportunity for networking and a quick catch-up.
What makes a strong offer?
Let’s start with the most important thing – the invitations. Make sure you don’t send out generic invitations. Personalize them according to your clients’ business, needs, and previous interactions you had with them. Your client needs to feel that the message is directed at them personally.
Furthermore, your invitations need to include a strong business case. From the moment your clients see their invitation, they need to know why they should attend the show. Therefore, highlight all the benefits your client can expect if they visit the show. You can even include a promotional gift, for extra incentive.
Make sure your invitations feature all your main events. Maybe you are holding a live demonstration of new and existing products. Or, perhaps you are organising a dinner and drinks event after the show. Whatever your selling points are, you should include them in the invitations. Don’t forget, your offer should be appealing. That is the only way to make sure your clients respond and show up.
However, you shouldn’t focus only on past and current clients. You need to have an offer strong enough to attracts new clients – the people you’ve never done business with.
Showcase what you have – hunt down sales with show visitors
Trade shows are usually jam-packed. And, that is a good thing. A big crowd means a lot of prospective leads. However, it can be a problem, as well. People walking in big groups by your stand need to be able to see what you are offering. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have strong and visible stand graphics and digital screens showcasing your proposal. After all, people need to see your stand and your offer. That’s why they came. Strong visuals are also important because most people like to see as much as possible during their visit to the trade show. So, you need to catch their attention from the get-go with strong messages and clear signage.
New is always better
People love new stuff. New technologies, products, and any other kind of innovations are very appealing to trade show visitors. You can use that to your advantage. You don’t have to have an entirely new, innovative product. It’s enough to have upgraded or modified products, and people will flock to your stand. After all, that’s why they came to the trade show. Utilize this power of “new” to attract potential customers. In the end, for people who have never done business with you, your entire offer will be new. That is the beauty of trade shows.
Clue your prospective customers in with screening questions
When visitors approach your stand, you can utilise some phrases and questions that will give them insight into the short-term sales requirements. You and your sales team can ask them:
– What are you looking for at the show today? Anything specific?
– Can we help you with something? What is your current main project/task?
– Are you happy with your current supplier?
– What is the biggest issue in your field of work right now?
– Are you interested in placing another order soon?
Trade shows are shortcuts for the sales process
Don’t forget that the trade shows shorten the sales process. They are a lovely shortcut that can cut out a lot of the steps that you would typically go through to win a new customer over.
Let’s break it down. At the show, you have the opportunity to meet with prospective clients and give them the details about your company, your service, and your offer. It’s a chance for them to find out who you are and what you do. After the show, the most important thing to do is to call them up and schedule a meeting with a person from your sales team.
Here you have the upper hand. You already have much of the information about the prospective client that you need. If you conducted an informal interview and asked the screening questions, you already know about what that potential client needs, what their buying process is like, and what kind of service they are expecting. Therefore, you can prepare for the meeting accordingly. Furthermore, you can probably estimate when their first order might come in, and you can adjust the production according to that.
To make a long story short, you’re in the perfect position to offer a quotation or respond to an actual offer. However, you won’t be able to do that if you haven’t asked the right questions. Screening and interviewing should be the critical part of any lead-gathering strategy. The more you know, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to close the deal.
Visibility is everything
Much like publicity, there is no such thing as too much visibility. Your name and brand should be showcased everywhere, and visible to everyone at the show. The more places you showcase your brand, the better. Make sure to take advantage of all opportunities to do so. You can submit your name in the seminar and conference program, the New Product Showcase feature, and in the Trade Show Guide.
However, don’t wait until the trade show to start working on your visibility. You can also promote your name and service through white papers and reports before an event. That way, you can attract the right people. Not to mention, you can draw a more significant number of them. Furthermore, you could make use of sponsorship and branding opportunities to showcase your name further. You can usually book those with the show organisers.
Don’t forget to follow-up
Finally, the crucial step is to follow up on your leads. Otherwise, you won’t make the sale.
So, there you have it! Once again – leads are great, but sales are better. Therefore, make sure to take a sales-oriented approach and get your team on with the program.
Richard Larson is the Marketing Manager at GoPromotional, the leading UK promotional mugs company He enjoys sharing his experience on a range of subjects to enable customers to increase their brand awareness through the use of promotional gifts.