I have a slightly different view on most exhibit opportunities, often associated with conventions, professional meetings, or actual trade show events. My goals, approach, expectations, and what I consider winning results are different – as I am selling professional services and not a commodity.
Ours is not the world of pre-event selling, hosted dinners, hard selling in the aisle or booth to booth, or blanket email follow up after the event.
The primary goal for a professional services firm that has set up an exhibit booth is simple presence. Some might say we are third tier in the consultant chain, in that we work for attendees (end users) as well as other exhibitors (consultants) at any event we attend. Our goal is to be seen as a constant presence in, and part of, ‘their’ world.
If you have sufficient staff in the booth, one can stand back and watch as attendees pause and comment to others “we used these guys”, or “I relied on them for my last construction project”. That is word of mouth referral, and it is priceless! Those referrals are generated simply be being present.
Our approach to manning the booth is to continue to be a resource to current and future clients. We are geared to answer questions for other vendors, as well as those that do approach us with specific needs. If one is to be a resource, you need to look the part. Booth staff needs to be welcoming, smiling, and not engrossed in a conversation with coworkers. Professional dress and demeanor, plus an inviting stance open the door. Success is defined when a client brings another attendee by to answer a need, or to explain a process.
Expectations are met when staff has connected, or reconnected, with attendees and other vendors. These events are a chance to network, interact, and share with our peers within the profession – either consultants or owners – in a relaxed atmosphere. When we can get technical staff to attend, our client base has the opportunity to meet the man behind the signature, the man behind the phone voice – to meet the expert. My primary expectation is that we deepen relationships.
Sure, we take notes, we swap leads and general information. And we follow up on those as well. No matter the level of typical sales activity, we define success if we get one chance to be an active resource, if we get one engineer in front of one new client, if we reconnect with one person, and if we get one thank you for supporting the event.