Trade Show Chronicles – Let’s talk statistics (chapter 8)
This article belongs to the “Trade Show Chronicles” series. It tells the story of Andrew, young sales executive newly employed by a Hong Kong company that will attend his first trade show in a few months time. From understanding what exhibitions are all about to organizing the booth, recruiting promoters and following-up on leads, Andrew will live a complete adventure unique to the world of exhibitions.
As I arrive in the office this morning I feel confident. I have been looking at the plan all night and it really feels perfect.
I am a little early and decide to sit in the meeting room for a while and review the plans one last time before presenting it to our boss later today.
When I open the door, Karen is already there with papers all over the table, studying.
– “Morning Karen! How are you doing?” She jumps, obviously not expecting anyone to be around.
– “Hi Andrew! I’ve been studying.”
– “So I see! Do you mind telling me what kind of study brought you here that early?”
– “Remember why it was decided that YOU should be in charge of this event?”
– “Yes… to take a sales approach instead of the usual marketing approach for exhibitions.” I don’t really see where she’s going.
– “Right. So I’ve been studying, trying to find strategies and statistics. See how we could benefit from this approach.”
I am quite impressed with her continual grit and enthusiasm. Now that I think about it, Karen is still very young – probably a couple of years older than me – yet she is leading our marketing efforts. No doubt her persistence helped her climb the professional ladder faster than most.
– “Alright, so what have you found?”
– “I read a very interesting article from ‘exhibitor online*’. Did you know that 98% of exhibitors collect leads on fairs and trade shows?”
It appears quite obvious to me: why would you pay such insane price for a single event if you couldn’t get proper leads for future business? Apparently, Karen is part of the remaining 2% that consider it more like a marketing event for brand awareness.
– “Oh really?” I say, trying hard to appear genuine. But Karen is so focused on her findings that she does not even notice my poor acting and continue:
– “Also, 70% of exhibitors have a follow-up plan BEFORE the event.”
This one is more surprising.
– “What do you mean a ‘follow-up plan’?”
– “They don’t explain that part… but I expect they have answers to the basic question: who, when, how?”
I am trying to visualize what a follow-up plan could be. Who? When? How? Isn’t it obvious? Who is us, when is after the event and how… well… by email, I guess. I’m lost in my thoughts when Karen suddenly brings me back to earth:
– “Also, 85% of exhibitors take more than 48h to start following-through with their collected leads. Some of them don’t event follow-up at all!”
– “Hold on… You mean that less than 15% of exhibitors actually perform immediate or quick follow-up?”
– “You know what that means?” Karen looks a little lost. “That means that if we manage to send follow-up messages within 48h we will be faster than 85% of our competitors! That would give us a real strategic advantage over the others! That is the kind of edge that can help us get more business and turn this event into a huge success!”
– “But I am not sure how we could perform that… there is a reason why most people take over 48h: it is because it is close to impossible to be faster!”
– “Well… your system, the one we signed for.”
– “You mean myfairtool*?”
– “Exactly. This tool will help us collect data digitally AND send instant “thank-you-for-visiting-us” emails, right?”
– “Then the problem is solved! We will have instant follow-up and someone will send them a second email later in-case they wouldn’t have replied us.”
– “And who would be ‘someone’?”
– “Right… I don’t know… an intern maybe?”
– “According to the survey, 37% of the leads are followed-up by sales, 33% by marketing and the rest is usually handled by various other departments.”
– “Alright then. We’ll divide the workload: 50% on me, 50% on you! Now let’s rehearse, we have a meeting with the boss this afternoon and I’d like it to go well!”
The discussion with our boss goes fairly well. He has some things to comment on but, overall, it is a success. It is now 8pm and I want to call Charles to let him know about my progress.
– “Hello Charles! Am I disturbing?”
– “Hi Andrew. No you’re not. How is the organization of your event going?”
I start telling him about the floor plan, the cabin, Karen’s idea about the sofa and so on. After I’m done talking about the statistics discovered by my marketing colleague, Charles asks me:
– “Very good findings indeed! So what will you do about it?”
– “What do you mean?”
– “Now you know that 70% of exhibitors have a follow-up plan, what are you going to do with this piece of information?”
– “Well… Build a follow-up plan I guess, but I already have one.”
– “Oh really?” he replies amused, “And what is your plan?”
– “I will capture visitors information and send instant follow-up emails using templates I have pre-written. We will be using this system we discussed last time – myfairtool.”
– “Andrew, that is not a plan. This is not even a follow-up!”
– “What do you mean?”
– “Sending instant emails is brilliant. You will make sure your visitors remember you longer and you have the opportunity to thank them for their visit. It is great. But it isn’t a follow-up. Follow-ups are deeper communications and require a different approach for each visitor.” Charles stops for a second. It seems he is trying to give me time to digest this part before attacking the next one. “Send these instant emails, perfect. But once back to the office, export all visitors reports and follow-up one by one.”
– “Who? Me? Can’t we do 50/50 with marketing?”
– “Oh Andrew…” he sounds despaired, like if he couldn’t believe what I just asked. “There is no 50/50, we are not playing lottery here! Qualify your leads: hot, warm, cold. Give absolute priority to the hot leads and review them personally. For the warm ones, you can eventually pass them to another sales person, but don’t delay too much! 72h max!”
– “And the cold ones?” I ask.
– “The cold ones can go to marketing. They can follow-up with more generic emails and offers. There is a reason why you qualified them as cold: there are too high in the sales funnel with low chances of conversion. Pass them to marketing to push them down your sales funnel. You could re-attack then!”
– “Wow… How did I not think of that? It sounds obvious when you mention it…”
– “Talking about obvious… how are you planning on following up? Which channel will you use?”
– “Email of course”
– “Emails are great because there are fast, you can think of what to write and attach files. But hand-written notes and phone calls can be very efficient too!”
– “How to choose?”
– “All ‘normal’ leads can receive emails only. Those you know will be difficult, follow-up with a phone call as well to clarify details and push a little more. And for these customers that represent BIG contracts, take a few minutes for an additional hand written note. That shows you care. Business is all about trust and care. Use it!”
– “Thank you so much Charles!”
- exhibitoronline – the myths of lead management
- myfairtool – capturing and converting leads on exhibitions