The truth about exhibitions: focus on your sales team
Posted by Tom Oakes
We would love to say that our exhibition stand designs could guarantee your success, but we can’t. Yes, your stand is a critical part of how well you do, drawing people in and helping to keep them captivated. But it’s how your sales team perform on the day that will determine if you see any real ROI from the event.
You should include your sales team in the overall vision from the outset and you both need to work together to ensure that they have the knowledge, skills and tools to perform. So we’re sharing our top five tips for what we see working for clients whose sales team hit their goals.
Involve your sales team in your exhibition brief
Your sales team hold the key to a great exhibition stand design. They understand your visitors’ pain points and motivations for attending best, which features would have the most significant impact on sales and what design challenges they’ve faced in the past.
Are they struggling to get people onto the stand? Would a better or quick video explainer/demo communicate your value proposition to passers-by better? Do competitions and imaginative giveaways work, or do they bring in the wrong crowd?
Do they not have enough time to speak with people before they lose interest? You’ve only got 60 seconds or less to capture most visitors’ attention according to Exhibit Marketing and Trade Show Intelligence. Do they have any ideas for interactive/audience-generated content, fun ice breaker activities or virtual reality use cases?
Set sales up for success before the event with promotion
Exhibitions are not just a place to build new relationships but cement existing ones and generate PR. Help give your sales teams the best chances of success by creating personalised invitations that they can send to their warm leads and loyal customers. You should also invite any industry influencers or journalists (and make sure that the sales team know who they can expect to show up).
Embrace social media to generate interest in what you will be doing at the exhibition and mention it in any email correspondence or InMails to prospects.
Doing so not only develops interest from those you’ve invited, it helps create a buzz that attracts passers-by to the stand.
Elevator pitches: watch, learn and train
Sixty seconds isn’t a long time to capture someone’s interest. Sales techniques that work in other those environments won’t necessarily work in a busy room full of distractions.
If you can identify any star performers, observe them at the next exhibition to see what they differently. (And in the meantime, ask them!) You can then feed this back to your teams and offer training workshops to help them develop and hone their elevator pitch.
Your training shouldn’t end before the exhibition, either. You should make the most of the morning debriefs to discover what pitches worked well (and not so well) for everyone, to help improve performance that day.
Explain what the short-term and long-term goals are
Exhibitions generally form part of a long-term sales and marketing plan. Sales teams need to understand how it will benefit them, so provide stats or examples of competitors who have used exhibitions to build their brand successfully.
Communicate the long-term nurturing plan too, so they understand how leads can be nurtured successfully long-term and what their role in this will be. As sales and marketing need to work together for effective nurturing, sales should help devise the qualification questions (and a freeform section for their own notes is useful for following up). Also consider how you can make their job easier when gathering this data and fo-up leads, such as with electronic lead capture tools or apps.
Choose your exhibition stand team wisely
Everyone on your team will have their strengths and weaknesses, so work with them and not against them. According to Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson in their book The Challenger Sales, salespeople fall into one of 5 different profiles: the Relationship Builder, the Reactive Problem Solver, the Hard Worker, the Lone Wolf and the Challenger.
Consider your goals and which sales members’ characteristics can help you achieve it. The Relationship Builders may be great at enticing people onto your stand and keeping them engaged, whereas The Reactive Problems Solvers will shine at product demos or explaining more intricate details of what you have to offer. Challengers are a great asset for those unconvinced as to whether they require your product or service.
You’ll need a mixture of different salespeople to help you ensure that your exhibition is a success and a strategy of who does what and when.
It’s expensive to exhibit at an event but by involving your sales team in your design and goals, you can maximise the return on your investment.