"InsideSales.com is one of the best companies in the cloud computer high tech world at generating leads at a trade show. I get asked a lot about our secrets… here are a few of them…" – Ken
- Never go to an event that you can’t generate more leads than you will need to pay for it… before you get there. We keep every contact and lead from years past and we reach out 6 weeks ahead of a trade show or an event and make appointments before the event even begins. Last year at Dreamforce 2012, we set 1057 appointments before the show even started. We walked home with 1900 qualified leads and 20,000 partially qualified leads. Use social media like crazy. LinkedIn and Twitter are awesome. Chatter is incredible if you are going to a salesforce.com event. But don’t spam. Just get to know people and meet them at your booth.
- Look sharp… be sharp… And be kind… Be assertive and talk to everyone, and have your entire staff do the same. Don’t sit down. Don’t leave drinks and food around the booth. Be kind. Never be a jerk like many of the old timer sales types I see who still believe that outdated model of disqualifying is as good as qualifying. They almost push you out of the way if they don’t think you are important. In todays age of social media one person’s disgruntled voice can carry far and wide. Go watch “United Breaks Guitars” and learn what happened to the perceived value of United Airlines when one employee treated one person, a musician, poorly. The first YouTube video Dave Carroll made about his experience has 14,538,344 views and counting.
- Trade leads with every other vendor at the trade show. Why? If you get 1800 business cards, and they do also, now you have 3600. 10% or 20% may overlap. That’s ok. Way more than you got on your own. And many of those vendors can become prospects or great partners. Competition is awesome!
- Never go to a show that you can’t speak at. Enough said. And sitting on a panel with 4 other people isn’t the same as speaking, but it’s better than nothing. If you can’t speak, make your own event that you can speak at and invite everyone in your database to come hear you speak at the show. Oh, and speak well… Here are a few pointers in an article called Great Presentations: Tips From Great Presenters I review before I speak each time and ask my co-speakers to check out also.
- When you speak, don’t pitch your stuff. Grow your industry. If your content and research is really good, people will flock to you. If you sell your stuff on stage, they flock away from you. If you help them provide answers to difficult questions, they turn to you to help them in their business. But people hate sitting through a sales pitch masquerading as a seminar… don’t do it. It hurts you. Have faith in your content and value. I get asked all the time in my seminars, “Ken, what is it you guys do? Research? Consult?” Then I tell them, but I take it offline after the seminar is over.
- Always have your own event(s) going on at the same time. We do what we call a ResponseAudit on every known attendee at the show. About a month ahead of time we do a “secret shopper” on their website by putting in a fictitious lead and tracking how fast they respond (immediacy) and how many attempts they make (persistency.) Then we do a press release with the top 50 responders, give awards and benchmarks, and make people aware of their lead response practices. It’s a great ice breaker. We also do dinners and press conferences in the evenings of big events. We have done these ResponseAudits 16,000 times. We have a research team of 6 constantly doing this to help companies be aware of how well they manage their leads.
- Set appointments for people to come meet your executives. They will be there anyway, put ‘em to work meeting the people and adding value to the discussions. This one of our favorite things. We keep Dave Elkington, our CEO, and our new President and Head of World Wide Sales and Client Success, Jim Steele, (formerly from salesforce.com) busy… very busy.
- Give cool SWAG away that matters and pulls well. Make people sit through a 20 minute presentation to get a $55 sweatshirt or a cool drone that flies from your smart phone. Why? You must educate Interest into Need, and only people with Need buy from you. Interest is the counterfeit of Need. Interest without Need wastes more time of your salespeople than anything else. Interesting and compelling bait on the hook catches a lot more customers.
- Be audacious and memorable… but smart… and relevant. Don’t pay for mermaids to swim in glass tanks in your booth that have nothing to do with your business. But it’s ok if you are having a Hawaiian vacation for partners who send lots of leads to have Samoan fire dancers and Hawaiian hula dancers at your booth.
- Have your best lead generators at the event… And make it a game! Invite your reps to shows and watch for the ones who really earn their pay. The others can stay home next time. Have contests, set goals. Gamify your tradeshow.
- Promote the event like it’s your own… because it is. Every year we drive hundreds of attendees to all the different trade shows we attend. We even will pay for passes for great customers, prospects or media to join us there. A rising tide floats all boats and you should give back to your trade show partner.
- Respond as fast as you can to all requests, and set appointments right at the show. Every rep should be typing or scanning in business cards at the show or at the latest in their hotel room that night. Get back with people quickly. Even better, set appointments during the show so you are on your prospects calendar. A business card scanner is great.
Source: Ken Krogue, Forbes