ATTENDING A TRADE SHOW: HOW TO ENSURE THE MAXIMUM BENEFITS

tradeshow

Do you get the most out of the trade show’s you attend? Do you leave satisfied? Are you inspired? Have you met at LEAST one person via networking that you feel like you can collaborate with at some point?

If the answer is ‘No’ then we have some work to do.

Trade shows, when chosen correctly, are an opportunity for you to gain valuable trade show experience, knowledge, product exposure and trends, they can help spark your creative and can align you with like-minded professionals.  “When chosen correctly” being key. You can’t expect to meet an apple at an orange fair… catch my drift?

Choose trade shows that are relevant in your industry. Local trade shows are great to connect with vendors (and potential clients) in your area, but if you have to travel for a well-known show (and have it in your budget) then do your research and consider the advantages- if any. You need to choose trade shows that will help you reach your business goals! If your goal is more sales? Choose a show that will feature new products for you to offer! If your goal is to scope out the competition? Do your research and make sure they are attending. If you simply want to network? Choose a show that is offering seminars and breakout room speakers. Like anything in business, do your research and make sure it fits.

So you know what show(s) you want to attend but don’t know how to make the most of them? Here are some tips to help you out:

Pre-register

  • You will get updates on the show. You should also follow the show using their social media outlets to stay up to date.
  • You might even save a few bucks if you’re an early bird

Have an objective for attending

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you measure the return on your investment?

Bring business cards

  • You would be surprised how easily that is overlooked

Take other people’s business cards

  • Make notes on them. Bring a fine point sharpie to write the notes on the cards because some people still feel the need to gloss both sides and your regular pen won’t write on it. No your pen isn’t broken… it just can’t write on gloss.

Know who is exhibiting and plan out who you want to spend the most time with and start with them.

  •  If the show starts at 10am? Be there at 10am. Fashionably late doesn’t work very well when you want to absorb their morning enthusiasm. Also make sure that the vendors don’t work by appointment- if they do? Then make one in advance.
  • Download a map of the trade show floor- it should be found on their site
  • Think of what you want to ask who- having your questions prepared in advance will ensure you don’t miss anything
  • Even though you are going in with a hit-list? Don’t forget about the little guys. Startups can surprise you and their hunger can’t usually be matched by corporate. They need your business and (sometimes- I don’t want to say always and you hold me to it!) they will work hard to keep it.

If you are attending with colleagues

  • Split up to gain more ground and fill each other in. This also goes for seminars. Spilt the sessions and gather as much information as you can.
  • Don’t be a “free seminar” snob. Take advantage of them. Just because YOU THINK you know everything there is on a subject? Chances are you don’t and will learn at least one new thing.

If you are attending a multi-day trade show

  • Book close to the venue. You will appreciate the ability to move back and forth easily- whether it is to rest, review and recoup? Or to simply unload information. Maybe you don’t want to lug around every piece of info with you all day.

Remember that trade shows aren’t open 24 hours.

  • Use your time wisely- even if it’s spread out over a couple days- use your time wisely.

Don’t avoid eye contact.

  • You will see what I mean- every exhibitor is waiting for the second your eyes meet to pounce their pitch on you… Don’t be afraid.  You may THINK you don’t want to talk to the exhibitor, but a quick conversation could lead to anything. It’s a small world after all.

Don’t rush out when the trade show ends

  • Perhaps there is a networking event you can attend? Usually there is a mixer following the show… whether or not it’s public? I don’t know. But ask.

Last but not least, remember to stay open minded and enjoy yourself! You will be more approachable and absorb more information if you are relaxed and stress free.

Seems like a lot of work? Well, it is if you do it right.

Sales Tips for Entrepreneurs: Breaking Bad Habits

Entrepreneur: Bad Sales Habits

Selling doesn’t come naturally for everyone- some people find it especially hard to sell themselves and their business. It is an art- it takes strategy and preparation and unless you have a killer sales team willing to work solely on commission of the hop? You are going to have to hit the pavement yourself.

To be successful with sales, you need to be aware of your bad sales habits. They happen to the best of us- the key is correction.

Here is some top sales behaviour that could be tarnishing your end results:

1. Not having a sales strategy.

It’s hard when you are wearing multiple hats but you need to have a plan. Your strategy will outline how you intend to sell your product/service, attract repeat customers and meet sales goals. You want to be able to measure your sales efforts and if you are selling on a whim and aren’t consistent? It isn’t going to be easy.

2. Not setting sales goals.

Sales goals will motivate you and help you tweak your sales approach. If you aren’t meeting your (realistic) goals perhaps you need to review your pitch.

3. Not dedicating enough TIME.

I get that you’re busy, but you need to know when to call a spade a spade. If you aren’t managing your time properly, following up or sourcing sales opportunities? You may need to hire some help. The money you put out short term will free up needed space for you to focus elsewhere and will ultimately pay for itself in productivity.

4. Push- selling your product/service and not listening to your clients needs.

You need to have sales. You know it, I know it, they know it- but you can’t force anyone to buy from you. You especially won’t be appealing if you reek of desperation. Show your value but listen twice as much as you speak. Tailor your sales experience to their possible solution.

5. Under charging your friends and family.

They should understand that you have a business to run. You don’t have to charge them full pop, but make sure you are at least breaking even and that you aren’t leaking too much of your valuable time into these “special” jobs…you could be selling to someone else for what you’re worth! For every job you just break even, you could be missing out on profit. PROFIT- the heartbeat of your business.

6. Taking rejection to heart.

No one wants to be rejected. It isn’t ideal- BUT you can’t let it jade you. It isn’t YOU they are rejecting; it is your product or service. Just because Joe Shmoe didn’t sign a deal doesn’t mean Ally Shmally won’t! You need to toughen your skin, reset and focus. We aren’t all meant to mesh. Not all sales are meant to be. Don’t take your anger on Ally… No one likes a bitter salesperson.

7. Not looking the part.

Ah. You are selling me high quality merchandise wearing… track…pants? Did you even shower today? WE ARE ALL BUSY, MAN! Get it together. Dress for success. You never know when a sales opportunity will arise.

8. Following all leads with the same amount of effort.

I know, I am big on consistency so what the heck am I talking about? Well, it may take experience for you to decipher the good leads from the not-so-good leads, but it will come. That little voice or feeling in your stomach that says ‘I don’t see this deal closing’ is trying to tell you something. Listen to it and focus your efforts on the sales efforts that you feel confident about. I am not saying ignore the other guy, good customer service is key. Just use your better judgement to adjust your energy accordingly.

9. Not pitching to the decision maker.

Is the person you are talking to able to give the final say? If not- pitch to the person who can. If the person who can give the green light isn’t interested in meeting with you? Perhaps this account falls into the “not-so-good lead” category. Tread accordingly.

10. Not knowing who you are pitching to.

Seriously. Invest the time. Know the person or company that you are pitching to! Know their competition… get to know them as much as possible before walking into your meeting. It is amazing what you can find online these days- utilize your search engines and customize your package.

Practice makes perfect. If you are nervous? Practice with friends and family, videotape yourself and make corrections if you have to. The best sales weapon is preparation. If you know your stuff and know who you are talking to? You will feel more confident and confidence is the second best sales weapon.

Any other tips you want to share with your fellow entrepreneur? We’d love to hear them! Comment below.

The Elevator Pitch: How to make it count.

Elevator Pitch

You get on an elevator at the 10th floor. Going down you are face to face with an opportunity to sell your business. Someone said hi and asked what you do. What do you say? How can you sum up what you offer in half a minute? Where do you start? You only have 20-30 seconds until the ride is over and if you aren’t prepared? You lose your chance.

Just as you finally get all of your thoughts together *DING* ground floor, and you watch your could-be client walk away.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

“The elevator pitch” gets its name from the length of the explanation. You should be able describe what you offer in a short period of time. You need to be able to spark enough interest to make a connection and be able to follow up. The pitch isn’t limited to an elevator of course- it can be for sales, to drive traffic to your website, explain what you do for a living and prep potential clients. It’s a good thing to have in your back pocket for just an occasion.

To start: Introduce your company and ask yourself how you want to be remembered by your audience. Include who your target markets is and how you provide value for your clients… what makes you stand out? Finish your pitch with an open ended question if possible (one that involves more than a yes or no) to include them in your conversation.

For example: If you are a travel agency:

“We are a full service, family oriented travel agency- we book your flight, hotel, car- we even book your excursions on the resort in advance. We pre-approve payment plans to help make it more affordable and offer heavily discounted last minute vacations. When was the last time you took a vacation?”

You need to get to the point and you need to make sure the delivery sounds natural (even though it isn’t…) Nobody wants to deal with the cheesy car salesman/woman…person. Also, make sure you always have your business cards on you and easily accessed.