Guest post by Rashid Kotwal
Alex was both exhausted and excited at the same time.
He’d just spent the day finalising his stand at a major tradeshow, and was looking forward to the hoards of people who’d be streaming past the next day.
It was an expensive exercise. By the time he added up the floor space, construction and personnel costs, he’d spent about $15,000, but Alex was sure it would be worth it due to all the new leads he’d be getting.
Walking through two major tradeshows over the last couple of weeks, I met lots of Alex’s.
Sadly though, most of them will be disappointed with their results from the show.
Why? Because in many cases they won’t meet the right people, won’t engage them when they do, and won’t follow up.
Interestingly, there are major parallels with networking functions, so even if you’ve never contemplated exhibiting at a tradeshow, the principles I’m about to outline apply in everyday business networking.
So let’s take them in turn.
Tradeshows, like networking events allow you to meet a lot of people at one time and in one place.
So rather than you running around the countryside visiting people, you get them to come to you.
How? By personally inviting them and setting up appointments to meet. That way you know you’ll be busy talking to the right people.
While walking the aisles, I noticed three general behaviours.
Some stand attendants stood in the corridors and actively made eye contact, smiled and invited me to talk to them. Others stood there looking bored and made no attempt at contact. And the last lot sat at the backs of their stands talking amongst themselves or eating.
Guess which ones I spoke to? In fact there were other people I was interested in meeting, but they showed no interest in me, so I gave up after waiting a few minutes.
Ever been to a networking function where you’ve experienced something similar? You’re new and no one takes an interest in you, makes you feel welcome and you leave wondering if this was all a colossal waste of time.
And finally, following up…
Generally, you can’t actually buy things at a tradeshow. You’re there to make connections, not lug stuff out the door with you.
So it’s critical that you follow up any prospects you meet. And not just once. You need to keep your name in front of them on an ongoing basis – forever!
Offer them something (an article you’ve written or something else you know would interest them) in return for their business card.
I recommend you use a combination of phone (for the hot prospects), letter, fax and email over an extended period of time. And it’s not always about making the sale. Send them articles you think they’d be interested in, stuff happening in their industry etc. It’s about consistently keeping in contact.
Once again, the same applies if you meet someone at a networking event.
Do all three of these things and you’ll extract the greatest return from your investment in both time and money. Miss one and you’ll leave money on the table.
Rashid Kotwal is an international speaker and author who specializes in on-line and off-line strategies for direct response marketing and sales optimization. He works with sales organizations want to get more business, faster and with less wasted effort.For more information on Marketing, Sales and Customer Retention Strategies head over to http://revealedresources.com.
Copyright 2010 Rashid Kotwal