In his regular In Any Event column, Jamie Vaughan, head of European sales at Cvent, gives his dos and don’ts to exhibitors who are keen to maximise sales leads at all stages of the event lifecycle.
The sales pipeline is the lifeblood of a business. It’s the major reason why organisations spend much of their marketing budget to attend exhibitions. The goal is to drive sales. Yet, there is a danger that exhibitors could be cutting off the sales life supply even before an event has even finished.
As someone who has headed up sales teams for both SMEs and global organisations, I know only too well about the pressures, the excitement, the buzz and the all-important targets when budgeting and driving the sales lead pipeline at trade shows and exhibitions.
Do remember the leads action starts before the show takes place
Recent research Cvent commissioned amongst 2,000 business executives who have attended at least one event in the past 12 months, revealed that six in ten will organise appointments before the event. This is great news. The more in-person meetings you make, the better chance of driving sales. Don’t leave your planning to the last minute, though. Allow enough time – as much as a month before the event – to schedule in appointments. Keep in mind everyone’s diary can fill up very quickly. Remember you aren’t the only company that that will be vying for their attention! It’s also worth noting that pre-set meetings make for a busy stand which creates genuine buzz and interest from other attendees who are enticed to want to join the conversation.
Don’t leave the design of your stand as an after-thought and always be friendly
For attendees that don’t get around to organising appointments before the event, it’s worth pointing out the research also revealed a fifth of delegates will make the decision of who to connect with at the event based on the appeal of the stand and its design and another fifth said it comes down to exhibitors simply being friendly and saying ‘hello’.
Do keep your pitch personalised
When you meet a potential prospect at the stand or meeting area avoid going into a generic pitch which won’t resonate with your contact. Nearly half of all attendees said the best use of time is when they found out how a product or service can help their business and more than quarter said they wanted to see that the exhibitor understood their business.
Do ditch the ‘hard sell’ at all costs
With the pressure mounting and exhibitors keen to reach sales targets, there can be a risk of coming across to prospects as overly pushy or even rude. Relax and remember to see this as a two-way conversation – you are not talking at a prospect. Very few attendees, if any, want the ‘hard-sell’ at an event. In fact, this was highlighted as one of their worst experiences with exhibitors, along with being harassed by persistent phone calls post the event.
Don’t leave it too long to follow up post-event
Do get in touch within the first few days following the event. Nearly a fifth of attendees said they would like to connect within 24 hours, whilst a further 47% wanted to be contacted again within three or four days. Email is seen as the preferred means of communication these days with a follow up phone call after the initial email exchange. Good luck!