2018 has just begun and the B2B event calendar has officially refreshed for a new year of business. Events can often be chaotic- there is lots to do, in a very short space of time; however, getting facetime with customers, both potential and existing, can prove an invaluable creating, nurturing and closing deals throughout the year.
With that said, events in themselves are becoming more difficult to navigate- less key decision makers walk the floor and therefore finding the right people to create relationships with is becoming a task in itself. This leads to a lot of teams sitting back and ‘fishing’- they wait for the ‘big fish’ to come to them, instead of hunting for opportunities.
Of course, you can’t really build a business from the booth- it is imperative to put processes in place at all stages of an event, from planning beforehand right through to actions taken in the months following the event. Careful planning will help to ensure a good return on investment. Here at Operatix, we have 3 stages in getting the most out of industry events:
Before the event, identify a list of prospects who are likely to be participating in the event. Six to eight weeks before the event, begin contact; although the ultimate aim is to set up face to face meetings at the event, it is important to put the prospect at the centre of your approach. Vendors are often bogged down at events, so work around them; if they cannot commit to face to face time, work around them to fit with their schedules. This could mean meeting outside the event, or a call at another time. By engaging at the right time, and in the right way, you have more chance of success.
It is almost impossible to have a proper meeting at a booth- it is noisy, there are many distractions and the environment itself is just incredibly busy. Make sure to hire suites/meeting rooms nearby. this allows you to take the prospect away to a more professional and productive environment. In an ideal world, the sales rep should be in the meeting room continuously throughout the event and only back at the booth when free.
After the event is over, it is important to leave no stone unturned. Liaise with the sales team to ensure you are on the same page- they may wish to follow up with some leads themselves. If the prospect is ready to engage, it is best to follow up quickly, within the first five days if possible, whilst the correspondence is still fresh in the prospects mind. Being proactive will help ensure success.
If the prospect is not ready to engage, they must be nurtured until they are. This means keeping the lines of communication open and educating them on what you are offering, keeping an eye on the market and working alongside them. This will ensure that, when they are ready, the lead you have worked on securing, could in fact turn into a closed deal.