WHY VISITORS MEAN NO WHEN THEY SAY YES AT A TRADE SHOW!

We all know that trade shows have evolved and long gone are the days when exhibitors came back with order books bursting at the seams or pockets full of cash (although if this is you, then high-five and keep up the good work!). I think most people in the industry would agree that as we approach the 2020’s, trade shows are much more about establishing a connection and laying the foundations for future business transactions – in fact industry research shows that 50% of post-show sales happen between 7-18 months after the event (Micahel Hughes – TradeShow Week Magazine).

But so often we still hear clients who are disappointed that some of the really positive conversations they have at trade shows seem to come to nothing, as the red hot prospect ghosts them every time they try and make contact. We hear stories of 20 minute conversations at a show, where the visitor was asking about the price, logistics, after-care and servicing, all the sorts of questions you’d expect for someone who’s gearing up to buy – only for them to ignore every attempt at continuing the conversation when they’re back in the office. So, what happened between those good vibes and the cold shoulder?

WE’RE ALL TERRIBLY POLITE 

In general, we’re pretty polite, especially in business. As humans, most of us like people adult-business-discussion-2182977to like us and we like to make others feel good. So we’ll very politely stop and chat, make the appropriate noises of agreement, ask the questions an exhibitor expects of us – all giving the impression that we’re really interested in what they’re offering when really we just don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

If you’re an exhibitor, that’s why working on that opening line and filtering script before you hit the show floor is SO important. Asking the right questions to really understand what a visitor’s problem actually is, will give you all the evidence you need as to whether your product or service is the solution. We’ve said it before, but if a visitor can’t clearly articulate to you what their problem is, they are unlikely to be in a position to buy from you.  And if you find yourself in the position of chatting to an exhibitor, remember that you’re doing them more of a favour by politely letting them know you’re not in the market for their service, than smiling encouragingly whilst they give you every feature and benefit from their carefully scripted pitch.

TRADE SHOW VISITORS MISLEAD EXHIBITORS 

…But not maliciously.  It’s linked to the point above, but so often visitors come to their wrong-way-167535_1920industry event with every intention of finding all the latest innovations, initiatives and solutions to kick their business up a gear. Whilst there, they are immersed in a world of what their future could look like, how their processes could be slicker, how those new products can help them beat their competitors, and how they could have a happier, healthier and more efficient workforce. Every conversation with an exhibitor is brimming with enthusiasm about how they’re going to change and evolve and every exhibitor gets excited about  their hot new leads.

But back in the office, with Moira off sick, customers late paying their invoices, a couple of vans off the road and / or a hole in the roof, suddenly the time doesn’t quite seem right to make the risky switch to a new IT provider or introduce weekly well-being sessions for the team.  It’s not that visitors weren’t genuine in the conversations they had with exhibitors last week, it’s just back in the real world, fighting today’s real problems is the priority rather than thinking about how they tackle the future.

So exhibitors should just give up on these as a lost cause then? Definitely not, remember back at the start of the blog we mentioned how long it can take to convert a lead – 7-18 months on average. So be patient and keep adding value. If you had a good chat with a visitor, they probably liked you and your product, and there will be a time in the future when they’ve put the fires out and have some space to think, or when your solution becomes the priority for the latest fire and you need to be on their radar. The key is finding a way to keep engaged, keep adding value and be ready to help when they need it.

DON’T ALWAYS ASK FOR A YES 

Anyone in business knows that filling the sales pipeline is one of the most crucial ingredients for success and there’s a temptation to always be asking for a yes. However, it’s often said that the more you ask for a yes, the more likely you are to get a no. Just repeating the features and benefits of your service / product might not be the most effective way to get your prospect to trust and engage with you. But how do you add value beyond just a sales conversation?

This is where we encourage our clients to think about their post-show contact plan before the event even opens.  Creating a bank of insight, offers and content to share with prospects after the show, that isn’t about just continuing the sales conversation, makes it much easier to keep in touch in a meaningful way.  Trying to come up with ideas once the show doors have closed is much tougher.

For example, we saw a great example recently from a wealth management firm at their local business show.  They didn’t know any more than the rest of us what the implications of the deal / no deal Brexit might be for tax, exports, customs etc. However, for those high value prospects they met, they offered VIP invitations to be part of their Brexit Busters programme – a series of workshops, seminars and webinars that would bring in experts to explain and interpret the developments over the next 12 months as it happens.  A visitor did argue ”Ah well you just want to get me there to sell to me” which is a fair question – but we heard the very firm response that definitely wasn’t the case and they wanted people to be honest if they did feel they were being sold to. Having spoken to 2 business people who joined the scheme, I’m told the events are hugely value adding and totally independent – but guess who they’re going to contact as and when they need some more official advice on their personal finances!

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So, next time you’re getting frustrated as you count all the yes’ that have become no’s since the show doors closed, try not to take it too personally! If people really didn’t like you or your product they probably wouldn’t have given you the time of day (we’re not that polite). They either just don’t need your product right now or don’t understand what their own problem is. But that doesn’t mean they won’t ever buy from you so be persistent, be useful and be engaging and make sure you’re first on their list when they work out they need someone just like you!

Not sure how to keep your visitors interested after the show – why not get in touch and we’ll help you create and deliver a killer post-show engagement plan? Call us now on 07891 122542 – we look forward to helping you!

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