September 11th, 2012
How to Get the Most out of Trade Shows
GlassBuild is upon us, and the fall trade show season, so I’m going to throw out some challenges to any attendees that want to make sure they get their money’s worth from attending a show. While you’re at an upcoming show, borrow at least one really good idea from a company in your own segment and one from an entirely different segment. It may be as simple as the look of a brochure or the way the sales reps dress or greet passersby. Next, rekindle your connection with at least three contacts that could sell your products, whether they be new or former dealers or manufacturers’ representatives or another manufacturer. Find one non-competing company with whom you could partner or trade referrals. Ask that person, “How could you and I send business to one another?” I don’t believe that question has ever been answered with a flat, “We couldn’t.”
There is a way to go about asking for meetings with these potential partners. You could email potential candidates asking them to meet you briefly at the show. If time is too short, grab a list of cell phone numbers of potential partners and call them before the show opens for the day, while you’re on the show floor or at lunch. You might say, “Bill, it’s John at XYZ Windows & Doors. How are you? I’m calling because I’m at X trade show and I wondered if you’re here.” If the person is at the show and has a few minutes to meet, you get to make your pitch face to face and request a chance to follow up next week. If he or she is at the show but doesn’t have time to meet, make the request to follow up on a few things after the show. Finally, if your prospect is not there, you might say “I’ll call you next week to let you know about anything interesting that I see here and I’d also like to discuss a few ideas with you.” People love getting the report from someone fresh back from the trenches. They’ll want to know about new products, interesting examples of companies co-exhibiting and, yes, the dependable handful of rumors that arise every time more than three of us in the industry gather together. If you do all of these things, there’s no doubt that any trade show you attend will be a huge success for you.