For the sake of this post I will assume at this late stage that everyone exhibiting has a rock solid set of objectives for this years Ecobuild.
From my own experience, most building product manufacturers will typically have three (Now Four - updated Nov 2013) key drivers for exhibiting. In no particular order:
- To show off new and existing product.
- To meet existing and prospective clients.
- Because the competition are there.
- Because they’ve always gone*
The months leading up to any large exhibition are generally more about project management than marketing.
Stand designs, branded visual communications and takeaways, selecting the products, creating dazzling flat screen presentations and touchscreens, defining the stories, choosing menu’s, fashionista’ing the right shirt, tie, gillet combo, generating the buzz through email and social…
A construction marketers journey to Ecobuild is always, always, hard work and there are rarely enough hours in the day and way, way, too many expectations. And yes, the next three days will be hard on the feet, tough on the liver too perhaps and definitely leave you completely shattered.
BUT (and it is a big BUT), getting there is still the easy bit.
Generating new business from the conversations you have over the next three days is why product manufacturers PAY to be at Ecobuild. And how well you FOLLOW UP these conversations will determine how well Ecobuild pays you back.
An event like this deserves as much effort in the follow up program as goes into to getting to the event in the first place. The follow up is the single most important element to your success at Ecobuild no matter the size of your business.
I recently read this article ‘Are you sabotaging your business’ from top sales consultancy Rain Group which clearly and succinctly identified some of the reasons why the follow up can be such a tough ask – reasons that totally resonated with me.
Following up can be difficult, downright terrifying even, but this is where the event cannot help any further. It can help you collect a prospects details but it can’t continue the conversation for you.
So then, here are my 16 top tips to make Ecobuild pay for itself after the event (assuming you’ve answered the question ‘Why are we here?’ in the first place):
- Be sure the sales and marketing team have been briefed on a failsafe prospect management process (inc. how to fill out a sales lead form) for the conversations they will have on the stand.
- Make sure everyone on the stand is briefed on any new products or at least knows who and where the technical chaps are at any given time.
- Decide how and who will collect the leads at the end of each day.
- Decide on the follow up process and break the job into smaller actionable parts.
- Whatever your phone approach, try and relax, remember no-one will die as a result of you calling. The worst that can happen is you get a ‘no thanks’.
- Remember no-one likes to be sold to. Be helpful first.
- Make a pledge to follow up all conversations, even the ones that are likely to not lead directly to a sale. Use these conversations as opportunities to build a helpful reputation.
- Call the hottest leads first, preferably in the first two or three days after the event (perhaps not on the weekend though).
- Get yourself into the right frame of mind. Don’t let your head talk you out of it. Your sales lead forms should give you the reason for the call.
- Enjoy having conversations (even if you are being rejected out of hand).
- If there is nothing doing with a contact, take the ‘No thanks’ as a result and move on to the next one. If nothing else you’ve made an unaware, aware and done what you said you were going to do.
- Don’t be needy, if your approach is honest you’ll only be asking if you can help and where’s the harm in that?
- Have a fall back. If your prospect is not ready right now, what can you do for them that might keep you front of mind for when they are?
- Ask if they’d like to be put on your ‘product innovation email distribution list’ for example if you have one.
- Always ask before adding your prospects to your lead nurturing program. Never assume they want to be emailed, phoned, DM’d.
- Remember, only ever follow up with relevant and useful information, anything less is not helpful.
*updated Nov 2013. Courtesy of @Whizardly - Stop Wasting Money on Building Material Trade Shows
If you’re going have a great Ecobuild 2014, make sure you start nailing your follow up process now.
I look forward to meeting some of you there and checking out the feast of product innovation that will no doubt greet us all when we get there.