Trade events and conference speaking opportunities are a dream come true if you believe in Simon Naudi of Answers Training[/caption]
Earlier this year, The Irish Event Organisers Association (IEOA) provided sales training for its business clients and associates at The RDS in Dublin during an Exhibition Open Day. They enlisted the help of a very entertaining Master of Event Sales : Simon Naudi of Answers Training and he delivered some very common sense , concise and pertinent tips for improving your sales techniques and sales straining via this Open Day Slide presentation .
I include a handful of key takeaways from his presentation in the first half of this post alongside my own thoughts in the 2nd half. These are essential sales pointers for your checklist when planning any event.
# 1. Define your objectives
What do You want to Accomplish at the Event?
- Market research?
- Push permission marketing with data capture?
- Increase sales?
- Launch a new product?
- Strengthen and renew relationships with existing clients?
- Improving brand awareness, PR and presence?
Not sure ? Here’s a few tips:
# 2. Refer to sales data and customer feedback to direct your event objectives:
- Trends & Direction: What direction are your sales trends heading? Do you need to reverse, reign-in or reinforce them?
- Reinforcement: Are you looking to reinforce what you already do: improve repeat custom, spend per customer and loyalty for example?
- Feedback: Do your Frontline staff and Customer Surveys point to weaknesses and opportunities in your offering that need to be addressed at this event? Is there new product or service they are crying out for or a gap in their understanding of your products?
# 3. Translate your objectives into event operations on the ground
What is the main Call to Action at your event? Ask yourself: Are you showcasing what’s new or providing a solution to an existing problem? All these objectives change the way your sales team should behave. They affect the design and operational resources you need to focus on during the event.
- Launching a new product? Are you providing opportunities for product testing & experiential moments that let them assess the product ? Have you enough samples in time for the event?
- Brand Awareness? Do you need a large noticeable Presence? If so, increase your displays’ prominence using eye tracking research, go for strong impact and drive curiosity.
- Capturing Data? Do you need to Meet lots of new people in a short space of time or enlist more subscribers?
- Reward passing trade with an easy to spot incentive.
- There are Devices you can hire to scan in Badge Bar-codes to save you time taking down information.
- Alternatively keep the more involved lengthy Sales Schpiel as a follow up conversation post event.
- Don’t focus on Corporate hospitality in this case as its time wasting.
- Market Research? Are you looking to Reinforce relationships whilst Networking with key target clients. Do you need to take Orders on-site? You should allow for more Corporate Hospitality that encourages clients to stay awhile such as:
- welcoming space
- alcoved areas
- time to accommodate involved meetings.
Regardless of the key aims of your event-based promotion ensure you are staffed sufficiently to allow each sales person time and accessibility to key clients requiring attention.
# 4. Refine your event sales objectives into measurable goals
Specific measurable objectives are easier for sales teams to follow. Like any sales and marketing activity, justify your investment with metrics that can form clear measurable goals.
For example :
- How many leads / direct sales enquiries / appointments do you want by the end of the day?
- How many new subscribers do you want from which market segments?
- Who are the top ten clients you want to visit your stand / event?
- What is the average order value you wish to secure during their visit.
- What do the visitors and delegates aim to do most at these events? Do they want to be kept up to date, research new ideas, new products? This determines how you spend money on space you have. Research the audience to understand who will be visiting the show and why.
- Have you profiled the key target customers for your team need home in on? What demographic / professional profile do they need to aim for.
# 5. Clarify & communicate sales method and targets clearly
- A Smaller number of focused objectives is better than a long to do list. It means your sales team can focus and you can track them more effectively.
- Revenue based targets are better than body counts. Actual inbound leads are more important than mere visitor numbers logged at your event or stand.
- Brief the team well pre-event:
- Allocate clear roles.
- Educate the whole organisation including backroom & office staff so they are aware of the activities at the event and play a supporting role in their own capacity.
- Brief the Team daily at the start of each day if your event occurs over a number of days.
- Ensure your team has the right Elevator Pitch when meeting new prospects at the event.
- Ensure your team has the right set of questions that need to be asked and the ability to answer FAQs
# 6. Use the event organiser & venue’s complimentary publicity channels
If you are a exhibiting in a larger event that is not your own, be sure to contribute to the collective pre-event buzz by providing exciting promotional content to the event organisers or the venue management. It is in your own self-interest to piggy back as much as possible on their marketing machine especially if the services are of mutual benefit and provided free of charge.
In short, make it easy for your event organiser to promote you to the show audience in advance of the event.
Provide your Event organiser with useful info Pre-Event:
- A portfolio of good Images: be they logos, hi-resolution product shots or good profile shots of participants if selling a service.
- Well written copy and press releases ready to go with any photos submitted: All these can be put together as blogs, newsletters or trade press features / advertorial.
- Guest blogs on their website: Have you a good bio, expertise to share, or a human interest story about the company, its team members, or interesting historical facts to provide? This must be linked to your website. Anyone prominent at your organisation up for an interview?
- Sales promotions including discount codes, coupons or free gifts, lucky draws to redeem at the event. Ask the Organiser to includes this in their direct newsletter marketing as well as the catalogue listings both printed & online.
- Don’t fail the deadlines for the organiser’s show Catalogue or any other PR opportunities if there is one.
A great spin off:
Your website could be getting links back through your pre- event promotions , especially if your pics, press releases and blogs are channelled via an events organiser’s website, social media channels and trade press contacts. If it is your own event – make sure you get mentioned via associated trade event listings.
# 7. Use ALL the publicity channels you have to promote your presence pre-event
There’s no point organising a party if you don’t invite your friends. I am still amazed at the number of people who pay to exhibit at trade events or invest their time presenting or sponsoring at conferences, yet don’t bother to invite their contact lists and encourage all their prospective clients to see them there.
You should be advertising your presence in advance using:
- A Call to action on your website and digital marketing channels, with a direct link to register attendance.
- Pre show mailers and incentives via mail Newsletter or Direct Mail to your customer base and subscribers.
- Front desk customer service and retail sites if any should be handing out invites to relevant target customers.
- Generate blogs and press releases that will attract relevant media attention.
If you are working in a B2B environment:
- Sales field reps and in house sales team should be calling key clients to invite them.
- Ensure the sales team has lined up appointments with key clients prior to the show. These will be more valuable face to face encounters than if it were a chance meeting.
- Piggyback a link to your next event at the bottom of every email signature or scheduled post from Accounts
Depending on the event organiser alone for promotion is not sufficient.
- Your Competition will. If your competitor has the initiative to personally invite the same target visitors ahead of you, their stand will be a more likely destination especially if they include personalised sales promotions.
- It helps Overall Footfall. The event organiser may not have access to the same contact list you have and it will benefit the footfall numbers at your stand.
- Target Better. You have a better sense of the exact target Client you want at your stand than the organiser does.
- Preview and Entice. Provide prospective visitors with a preview of your product, tease them with a sales promotion or give advertise reward to claim at your event. Make your location their destination at the event.
Events and social media have a lot in common – they involve engaging people, interacting in real time and starting conversations. It makes perfect sense to utilize all your social media channels pre event when generating some buzz around the big day.
Here’s a few tips:
- Post updates showing preparations for the event. Drop in with pics and designs showing the construction process of your stand design , stage etc.. tell your story leading up to the show.
- Start up an online countdown calendar to build the tension with a new story everyday showing your journey and the mishaps, funny moments, etc..
- Crowdsource design ideas pre event: Why not go one step further and get your audience to help you design your presence at the event?
- Get Pre-event Feedback: Use online surveys and polls on Facebook or your own blog to engage your potential audience. For example:
- What kind of promotional offers, product info, or special treatment would they like to have at the event?
- What kind of Questions or topics do the need addressed at the Conference / Seminar ?
- Gamify the Experience: Gamify the build-up to an event by incentivizing potential visitors to spread the word and reward them with pre event offers, prize draws and exclusive promotions at your event
Be part of the larger conversation if you are attending an industry event or conference
- Make sure you use the Event Twitter Hashtag when advertising to dip into the larger conversation before the big day.
- Engage and pre-network with delegates /trade show attendees by maximising the event organiser’s social media channels. For example :
- Make sure you make your presence known on the event Facebook profile.
- Cross-promote announcements, website links, photos,and videos from the event organiser
- Here’s a good post with some emphasis on Twitter: How to create pre-event buzz using social media
- Here’s a good strategically focused Social Media Guide from Facetime.org: The Essential Guide to Social Media for Live Events
- Event blogger Julius Solaris did a crowd sourced post via his Linkedin discussion group drawing in some great advice from event professionals in : The best way to promote your event
# 9. Keep an eye on competition at events
Be aware of what your closest competition may be up to if they are showcasing in the same event
- Where will they be positioned? Does it makes sense to be displaying your products nearby or far away? Being nearby means you can keep an eye on what they are doing and possibly speak to the same people who meet them at the event.
- What advertising and promotional incentives have they been activating?
If your competition is organising a competing event / conference / seminar, at another venue:
- Make sure the dates don’t clash
- Ask if you are duplicating what they have already done and if so, will this make the content pointless to would-be delegates who have heard it all before?
- What are you offering that is different, more valuable and with a superior USP?
# 10. Leverage partnerships to improve your sales potential at events
Are you working closely with important partners and stakeholders that may enhance your sales activities at an event?
- You could be cross-promoting with a favoured supplier also showcasing at the same event.
- Would your suppliers provide you with extra trade marketing material and stand display props that may save your the cost of constructing them yourself?
- Adjacent Positioning: If exhibiting in a larger industry event , it would be worthwhile to position yourself next to companies that service similar target buyers. For example:
- If selling Children’s bedlinen, you may want to position next to the manufacturer of Children’s nursery products.
- If promoting AV Equipment , you may want to position next to a Gaming software company.
- Product placement and Contra Arrangments: Offer your products to someone who may need them elsewhere in the event on the basis you are allowed to label your products and get referrals. For example: if selling lounge furniture, offer some display samples for use in lounge areas within other prominent stands or to the Exhibition organiser.
Why bother following these sales boosting steps?
According to Facetime UK:
1 in 3 people have a positive attitude towards your product after attending an event.
People are more likely to buy after sensory experience as it improves their decision making process.
At events, business comes to you and visitors are already looking to buy and want to be sold to.
So why waste the opportunity? If you think these tips make sense, stay tuned for my next instalment with great sales tips focused on what happens During and After an event.
I hope you find these Pre Event tips prove useful for you. Do you have any of your own to add?
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