Don’t be Disqualified: Get Face to Face to Close Deals

By Tina Rutherford, posted on August 29, 2019

Tradeshow season is in full swing, and Image 4 is in the thick of it, both as a support partner to our clients, and as an exhibitor ourselves.

Not surprisingly, we believe strongly in the value of “Face to Face Marketing”. We’ve grown our business for years by getting out in the field and meeting our prospects and clients “where they are”, from their offices to conferences to tradeshows.

We just finished a major tradeshow in the banking industry, with absolutely stellar results – in fact, so good that we’re going to write a white paper on how to metrically improve your trade show results. By both measures we use – ROI and ROO (see last month’s blog post) – we experienced return in the hundreds of percent. That’s not a typo, and my degree is in data analytics so I’m sure of the number!

Given the fact that we market actively in other forms – a great website, SEO, social, broadcast email, this newsletter, sponsorships, and direct sales efforts – we have to ask if it’s appropriate to assign all this rate of return to our show presence. So, let’s cut the results in half.

When’s the last time you invested in anything with that level of return?

Sure, we’re going to have to work to close a few of these opportunities. We’ll have to sharpen our pencil and adjust our delivery times, and do all the things that large, complex, contracted projects require. That’s the day-to-day of closing sales. But what was proven over and over again was that our prospects arrived at our exhibit ready to engage in a conversation about acquisition – they were very far down the path to purchase.

With the exception of qualified referrals, we all find prospective partners on the web, and we look into social media, Dunn and Bradstreet, etc. for credibility and capacity to support what we need out of a partner relationship. By the time we get to a show, the Qualification groundwork has largely been done.

What hasn’t been done is the Disqualification! This is a crucial takeaway. Most of our prospects came to visit us to find out if there was a reason to Disqualify us: did we not understand their problem? had we not developed a similar project in scope or scale? were we supporting a competitive organization that would exclude us from consideration? were we people they just couldn’t work with for one reason or another? was our back-of-the envelope budget out of consideration?

Our subsequent conversations were largely successful because we made the time and engaged in a face-to-face exchange. We built rapport, created understanding, shared empathy, war stories and knowledge in a professional, adult-to-adult interaction. We began to learn how we could create a successful project together, and how that might look and feel. And this was done to great benefit in a carefully designed, controlled environment that was the extension of our Brand and our Business – our Trade Show Environment.

Because we understood the duration and depth and form of these conversations, and the personalities of the prospects, we nailed the environment and message design. Our exhibit was the most noticeable and the most clearly market-positioned on the floor. We were directly across from a competitor, and our exhibit pulled 300-400% more traffic through the show.

Our large-scale mural and thoughtful copy attracted and informed our prospects, our AV presentation delivered eye-catching and relevant content, and our hand-help tablets allowed us to engage and demonstrate in detail when the conversation required it. Lead retrieval was seamless on a phone app. A large part of our success was in up-front planning and pre-show execution. We worked hard at perfecting the show process. And our results are telling.

So yes, trade show participation is expensive. But even more so is failing to close. And, just maybe the show isn’t that expensive, perhaps you’re not making it all that it could be.

Drop us a line and let us help you improve your show experience. Because It’s About the Experience®.


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