Last week I attended the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in Chicago. While I was there, I noticed some interesting behaviors and practices by some of the vendors who were exhibiting. Many of them seemed to abandon traditional prospecting strategies when the mask of a phone was lifted and confronted with face to face interaction. Why would that strategy differ? The more I think about it the more it makes me laugh.
The overall goal of exhibiting at a conference or trade show is to make good connections and lay the groundwork for future new business. This is the same exact goal that business development and lead generation teams have. So why should the strategy for getting there differ? Short answer – it shouldn’t.
Here are some strategies that translate seamlessly from teleprospecting to prospecting for potential prospects at trade shows:
Proactive not Reactive - If you talk to any inside sales professional about sitting around and waiting for inbound leads as a best practice, they will laugh. It’s all about being proactive and reaching out to people in order to get new accounts just as you would on the phone. Many inbound leads, or people who stop by a booth, will not fit your ideal customer profile nor be a fully qualified opportunity.
Yet, at a conference full of inside sales professionals, I watched vendors camp out at their booths the entire time hoping people would come by to talk to them. Instead, they should have been going out to seek conversations and drive people to their booths.
Strong Inroduction – Any good conversation begins with a solid introduction. Whether in person or on the phone, it is important to build your credibility at the outset. Without a solid introduction, you won’t be able to get your prospect engaged. On the phone, they will hang up on you, and in person, they will just walk away or disengage immediately.
Quick Value Proposition – Keep your pitch short and to the point. No one wants to feel like they are being pitched to while gaining a good understanding of what it is your company does. Providing a good, clean value proposition will allow the attendee/prospect to understand your business/services/product quickly and easily, allowing you to move on to more qualifying questions. Therefore, you can transition the conversation to talking about them rather than yourself.
Multiple Conversations – All inside sales professionals understand the importance of building relationships. At a conference or trade show it is even easier to strike up multiple conversations with the same person. Each time you should try to get some piece of important information out of them without selling. Just as on the phone, you won’t be able to talk to a prospect once and have a sales-ready opportunity. Being able to build a good rapport with someone will help immensely when you go to follow up with them after the event.
Moral of the story – when prospecting, abide by the same strategies at conferences and trade shows as you would on the phone. Get out there and proactively go get your prospects.