A consistent concern for marketers is how to increase the amount of qualified leads at events and trade shows. If you are a B2B marketer, you simply do not want a pile of dead-end leads — you want qualified information that your sales force can make something out of it.
In doing so, you have to first learn the behavior pattern of your buyers. Learning the behavior pattern of your buyers will help you evaluate the way you network with your buyers.
Before you go to events, do a bit of research about your potential buyers.
Here is a quick check list.
- What are the key concerns for purchase?
- What is their field of interest other than their profession?
- Are they decision makers or influencers?
- How long is the approval process? Is it approval by a group or tiered committee?
- Is there an immediate urgency to make the purchase?
- What are their professional goals?
- What their professional pain points?
- Are they familiar with your product or service?
Of course, the check list is a quick one. However, the research is quite detailed. Even, if you get one-third of this done, you are well on your way to be an effective 'networker'.
THE CARDINAL RULE OF NETWORKING IS KNOWING WHAT TO SAY
Everyone can talk. There is no feat in that.
Here are some quick tips.
“We sometimes try to impress people we just met by not trying to impress them.”
Gathering leads at trade shows does not mean being an in box for gathering names.
"It is so tempting to think about trade shows as only a way to get new names. So easy to think that you can talk to your customers at a different time because you are at this event to meet new prospects. So natural to want to only think about what is in it for you and your company. Don’t get me wrong, I think the primary focus should be getting a good return on your presence at the show and hopefully making numerous sales as a result of the valuable contacts obtained at the show. BUT… that is not ALL that the trade show or your conference is about..." Sofia Troutman, Customer Engagement & Industry Relations Manager at Skyline Exhibits
Think about leads as digital currency. Before you seek for leads, think what have you done to earn it.
"MAKE YOUR SURVIVAL DEPEND ON TALKING TO ANOTHER"
You definitely want to target events, your prospects are likely to visit or exhibit at. Get the attendee list well in advance of your conferences. Some events do publish attendee list, and some do not. If yours does, get the list and devise a game plan — who you want to connect with and what you have to offer them.
You might also connect with them prior to the event and invite them to a mini discussion or session (e.g about the state of the industry) that you might want to host at your offices prior to going to the show.
“The choice isn't between success and failure; it's between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.”
YOUR CLIENTS ARE THE GEL OF YOUR BUSINES MACHINE. SATISFY THEIR APETITIE FOR LEARNING MORE AND NEEDING MORE. HELP THEM STAND OUT.
"Trade Shows are great opportunities for you and your employees to learn more about existing clients. Make an genuine effort to find out if they are happy, or not, with your products or services."
Because, when you take the time to really listen to your customers, and to your business associates, you have the opportunity to not just make one sale, but to really help them, and to develop a long-term business relationship. This is the type of thing you can’t do online. This is what face-to-face marketing is all about.
“Becoming well known (at least among your prospects & connections) is the most valuable element in the connection process.”
Trade show and events are simply the greater manifestation of a networking process that has been going on for a while. Gather skills that will attract other people towards your brand and your people. Become an authority about the industry that you are in. Better yet, be innovative in driving certain distinctive trends in your industry. The idea is to become a 'valuable resource' for your customers and your prospects.
“Let 'the cause' become the 'because' – the reason – for people to do business with and to refer business to you”
Networking — business and social is always about them. Never about you. Yes, you have a product to sell. But do not make that the cause of your conversation.
Ask open ended question like: 'What brings you to the show?". From there on weave your way into asking: "What have you seen at the show that you have found interesting or useful?" That will give you an idea if what they are looking for can be solved by the product you offer.
IF YOUR DO OFFER THE SOLUTION:
Then, you invite them to participate in a personalized demo. Personalized demo helps you attain more qualified leads than a presentation that is held for the masses. You design a theater with powerful speakers to attract crowd and expand brand awareness, but not to get qualified leads.
IF YOUR PRODUCT DOES NOT OFFER THE SOLUTION,
Move them along to the right provider. But, make it a point to keep in touch. That is vital.
THE ART OF SMALL TALK — "Small talk helps to provide a bridge from saying "hello" to the substantive part of the conversation.”
Conversing with strangers can be awkward, unnatural and often painful. But there is an art to it, and it can be mastered. “A golden rule is that you don‘t have to be brilliant―just nice,” says Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, in New Albany, Indiana.
The best way to do this is by showing interest in the people you meet. Instigate a dialogue, not a presentation. Tailor what you have to say about yourself so it's appropriate to the discussion you're having.
There's a finite amount of time you can spend with each person, so have a loose script ready, but be willing to compromise as the conversation progresses and always be sincere in your efforts.
Timeless book on small talk: How to Win Friends and Influence People
“Don't be afraid of enemies who attack you. Be afraid of the friends who flatter you.”
Do not be afraid to talk about your shortcomings. If your product is more expensive, does not quite hit the mark, or less than perfect in some way, be up front about it.
(But be sure to give reasons you can overcome those objections, too!)
The attendees that are still with you after that, will be worth giving to your field sales reps.
"There are two levers for moving men — interest and fear."
This is where I happily get to say — Ditch the technical jargon. Instead, design your booth graphics and messaging in plain English.
In a world of 'enterprise this' and enterprise that' OR 'dynamic malware this or that', it makes a world of difference to convey your offering in words that has meaning and creates a sense of mystery and intrigue.
Why mystery? Because, it creates interest and apprehension to know more about your offerings. Just give it a try and see how it works.
At the end, always think about how to make a difference. Quite simple really. Unfortuantely, often it gets fogged by our immediate fear of not being able to gather enough trade show leads.
If you made this far, here is a treat for you. Check this out.