In-person sales events, from trade shows to association conferences, are a truly valuable part of any organization’s sales and marketing strategy.
On top of brand recognition, showcasing your product, and getting a real handle on the concerns, pain points, and wants of your audience, these events provide the one-on-one connection that is so important in building a qualified lead and, eventually, closing a sale.
According to a study by The Center for Exhibition Industry Research, 79% of the attendees say that attending shows helps them decide on what products to buy.
But what sounds like a surefire win can backfire for many companies who are not approaching each event with a clear, and modern strategy. While some things in sales never change, technology is greatly improving the way sales teams can move trade show leads into the sales funnel and improve their chance of conversion.
By approaching things the “same old way”, you not only run the risk of fewer sales but that the time and money spent on the event itself will not prove a great investment.
Are you guilty of using one of these antiquated approaches to conference exhibiting?
- You collect lead information manually. The business card has not quite died, but it’s certainly not the most efficient manner through which to connect with attendees. In the worst case scenario, the cards you collect could be misplaced or left behind. Even in the best situation, you have the bare minimum in terms of information, and you need to have someone manually enter that data into a CRM or other system. The result is a waste of time and lackluster lead data that does not provide any of the actually helpful information a sales rep could use to nurture the new contact.
- You hand out brochures. Have you ever picked up a box of brochures, fresh from the printer? It may surprise you — but those skinny little sheets of paper, when together with 500 of their friends, is heavy! And if your show is out of state, shipping them can be costly. Once they make their way to attendees, the issues continue as coffee is spilled, the wind blows, or items are placed on a table and forgotten. All of your printing and shipping costs are now for naught.
- You spend all your time talking with attendees. At first glance, this looks like it should be a smart sales approach — focusing energy and time on real connection with those who stop by your booth. But if everyone staffing the event is in snooze mode, who is capturing all the engagement data? Unless you all have amazing memories, these conversations are only as good as the information that is then captured. Can you actually look at those business cards four days later and remember who is who, what they were most interested in, what brochure you gave them, and what issue your product could solve for them? Probably not.
- You enter everything manually. Those business cards. Anything you can remember from your conversations. They usually go into a spreadsheet or your company’s CRM, but who gets that data there. It’s often you, or another member of your staff, who are spending valuable time typing away. Do they know what workflows to enroll them in so the connection is not lost?
If you have nodded your head at any of the above-outdated processes, you are not alone. It’s the way trade shows were built, and many will stick with the status quo never realizing how much it is costing them.
But if you see now how these seemingly normal activities are potentially costing you time, money, and sales, it’s time to do something about it.
The most obvious alternative is to invest in technology. You may have been to a larger conference that provides tag scanners or an app that will quickly collect the information of those who visit your booth, a major help and time saver.
You may also consider a content management system that allows you to send personalized content to the leads as soon as they leave your table. Try capturing your notes with a voice recorder shortly after a conversation with a prospect, while the details are still fresh, and using an app to reliably transcribe the notes for you.
Or you can do all of that, and more, by opting for an end-to-end system that tracks all interactions and resulting data from lead retrieval to in-booth engagement to follow up communications.
Integrate with your CRM, and experience the most seamless process, one that will greatly improve sales and marketing efforts and, in turn, your conference ROI.