The Missed Connections page on Craigslist is proof that as a race, humans mess up. We have the best intentions, we may even prepare, but when it’s a split second opportunity to put ourselves out there and potentially get turned down, we hesitate.
And yes, this even goes for you, the suave marketing and sales professional that can shake hands and kiss babies with the best of them. You are confident, and you are informed, and you have done your research. Good. But you know as well as us that you have also walked away from a trade show or networking event and realized it wasn’t your best performance.
How can you improve your event game? We have some suggestions to generate solid leads at your next event.
1. Do your homework.
Well before you head to the venue, start your plan of attack. Who is coming? Who do you want to connect with? What is going on with their business that would make your product a good match?
2. Introduce yourself.
You’ve seen them at every trade show – the shy reps hovering just at the entry of their booth, waiting for people to come to them. Instead, greet people walking by, welcome them to your booth, explain in a strong one-liner why what you are sharing is of value.
3. Don’t make it all about you.
When you begin chatting with a prospective client, ask questions and find out about their needs, wants, and issues that need solving. Commiserate with them and get to know them – then show them how you can help. No one wants to be talked at – respect the give and take.
4. Customize your pitch to that individual.
So you’ve met Bob and he’s in pharma sales and he would love to be able to reach more business managers in chiropractor offices. Have a pitch just for him! With technology, you can come prepared with a variety of mini demos or tutorials that are targeted to niche demographics and showcase the solution you can provide on an individual level. Be sure to have approaches and materials for all your top prospect markets.
5. Start the lead process immediately.
As soon as you have a name and a company, you have a lead. Take the business card, sure, but using event-marketing software that allows you to instantly turn it or the individual’s conference ID into a lead in your CRM kicks off the process easily and ensures their details won’t get lost between the seat cushions on the way back to the office.
6. Ask the hard questions.
If you are working your magic but your potential client is obviously becoming disinterested, ask why. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but ask right out what isn’t working for them. It may help you redirect your sales pitch, or it may enlighten you to an issue with your approach or even the product that you hadn’t noticed before. Learn from it.
7. Ask for the close.
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right?
8. Foster the relationship.
The stats on how many event leads are never followed up on are mind-blowing. Your job does not end when the event does – reconnect! If you utilized an event-marketing app, you already have the email address entered and ready to go – so go. Send more details on the product, or a video to a demo, or a whitepaper – and then check your analytics to ensure they not only opened it, but to see how long they engaged and what they seem most drawn to. If you had discussed an issue they were having in their office, send an article explaining how others have fixed it. If they love a sports team, send a short email congratulating them on a recent win. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so grab some water and your tablet and keep going.