Trade Shows:How to Convince Your Boss
The COVID-19 pandemic hammered your company’s sales, supply chain issues continue to plague you, and budget cuts occurred across the board. You just know the C-suite is eyeing that trade show line item – only seeing the price tag and not the actual value of your company’s participation.
Your company may face some uncertainty – many companies do. However, that’s a time to embrace trade shows and face-to-face engagement, not turn away from them. If you receive pushback about maintaining or increasing your role at industry trade shows, emphasize the following sevenpoints to the top brass.
There is no better opportunity for sales and lead generation
Everything you do, all of your marketing efforts – the ads, email campaigns, direct mailers, etc. – and the budget allocated toward those efforts are for one purpose: to get the chance at a face-to-face meeting with a prospective client.
Trade shows are in-person, face-to-face meetings. The show floor is electric with activity, filled with prospective buyers searching for the solution to their specific needs. In a business landscape where, for the past year and a half,face-to-face communication meant a Zoom meeting, trade shows provide a valuable opportunity for direct connections with customers and prospects.
Naysayers may counter that many attendees are just window shoppers there to kick the tires. However, trade show attendees paid to attend either on the company’s dime or their own. Most likely, a trade showattendee is there with an agenda.
Research from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that mosttrade show attendees – 81% – have buying authority. Granted, this is a pre-pandemic study, but there are signs the percentage may be even higher after the COVID-19 lockdowns. Reports from trade shows throughout 2021 indicate that attendees hit the shows ready to make deals.
Purchasing decisions occuron trade show floors. If your company is not there, you missed an opportunity.
Lead conversion is cost-effective
According to the CEIR report, “The Cost-Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation: Part I and Part II,”the average cost of an initial in-person meeting at a trade show is $96. However, the cost to schedule an initial off-site appointmentwith a prospect is $1,039. That amount includes $443 to first identify the candidate and $596 for the field sales call.
An in-person meeting at a trade show saves your company an average of $943 per prospect.
The CEIR research also found that closing a trade show lead is, on average,$2,188. That cost includes the initial $96 and $2,092, which isthe average cost of 3.5 sales calls. The calculation uses 3.5 because the report found that 54% of sales initiated from a live event require three or fewer sales calls to close.
However,without an initial meeting at a trade show, it costs $3,102 to close a sale. That figure includes the initial $1,039 and the average cost of 4.5 sales calls, which is $2,659.The report found that 61% of sales from sources other than a live event require more than three sales calls to close.
On average, closing leads discovered at trade shows will save your company $914 per sale.
Build your brand
Trade shows and conferences put your brand in front of an engaged audience that is ready to discover and learn and has invested time, money, and effort to get to that trade show. According to CEIR research, 78% of trade show attendees travel more than 400 milesto attend abrand experience. Combine that with the fact that 45% of attendees visit only one trade show per year, and every trade fair your company visits places you in front of a national audience where nearly one in two prospects is a unique visitor.
Launch new products & services
According to Inc., an overwhelming majority of trade show attendees – 92% – attend live events to see new products. Not only is this currently the number one reason that people attend trade shows, but it has been the number one reason for a quarter of a century.
However, most product launches take place outside of expos. This means, by launching a product at the show, you will not compete with a series of other announcements for attention.
At trade shows, a substantial number of companies related to your industry are brought together in the same building. It is an excellent time to network and create connections. You may even find new opportunities to improve your workflow.
Even companies that are in direct competition need to establish connections. You never know when a paradigm shift may occur that could turn a friendly rivalry into a mutually beneficial relationship.
Set aside some time to peruse the show floor and meet the neighbors. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn more about businesses across your industry.
Strengthen relationships with current clients
You tend to bump into existing clients at trade shows (especially when you let them know you’re attending and the location of your trade show booth). Trade fairs are an ideal opportunity for you to gather current clients together and strengthen your existing relationships. Some possibilities include hosting a mixer at your exhibit, an after-hours happy hour, or an off-site dinner.
Don’t let your competition be the only presence they see.
Receive customer feedback in person
Your customers want to be heard and appreciate the freedom to speak. Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to ask for and receive honest feedback about your company and how customers interact with your products and services.
You will gather invaluable, real-time insight into the customer journey and how your company can improve products, outreach, and marketing efforts.
Excerpt: Your marketing budget is stretched thin, and the C-suite is searching for areas to make cuts. If you’re worried they’re eyeing trade shows, here are seven facts to convince the top brass about the value of face-to-face events.