Despite the influence of the internet and online interactions, in-person sales and professional interactions are still important for many businesses, especially in applications like tradeshows and conferences. However, you’ll need to make sure your team is equipped with the right materials and prep before attending.
Your organization may have goals specific to your industry, specific to the conference, or specific to the team, but overall, you should funnel your resources to address these three primary goals, in order of importance:
- Achieving as many direct sales as possible. Sales should be your number one priority. You’re sending your sales team, after all, which means they won’t be spending that time in a traditional sales environment. Plus, any direct sale you get is a line of straightforward revenue that you can use to offset the costs of attendance.
- Increasing the visibility and recognizability of your brand. Next, your job is to promote the visibility of your brand. This is a central location for brands like yours (and the people interested in it), so do whatever you can to make your name and image stick.
- Expanding the professional networks of your salespeople. Besides sales and brand recognition, this is an opportunity for your salespeople to expand their professional networks, getting information for future leads, partners, referral sources, and other future contacts.
Goals two and three may be swapped in priority for some businesses.
So what can you do to ensure your sales team maximizes their performance in each of these three areas?
- Invest in the right software. First, you need to make sure your salespeople are equipped with the right technology, including both portable devices like tablets or laptops and sales software, like the platforms offered by SAP. Your salespeople will need to take down information, show digital content, and communicate with others on the fly, so the last thing you want is an unreliable platform or device stopping your momentum from accelerating.
- Choose the right team members. You also need to choose the right team size and team members to attend. Usually, small teams work best; you’ll spend less money, and can concentrate on your proverbial “firepower.” Pairing seasoned salespeople with newbies is a good bet; experienced members will be able to land more sales, while newbies can benefit more from the exposure and networking opportunities.
- Invest in sales collateral. If you want your brand name to stick, and if you want to make the most of the people walking by your booth, you need to make sure to have some kind of sales collateral to give away. Depending on your brand and your budget, that might include a small promotional item, or something less expensive, like branded postcards.
- Set specific goals for the event. Before sending your team off, make sure to set some specific, actionable, and measurable goals for them to achieve. Is there a specific sales target they need to hit to make the trip profitable? Are there certain exposure criteria you’d like them to meet?
After the tradeshow or conference is over, spend some time reviewing the actions you took leading up to and including the actual conference. How much money did your organization spend on the event? How much time did your team collectively spend preparing and attending? How much value did you really receive? These questions should help you figure out whether your expenses were “worth it,” and which tactics were most and least effective in that pursuit.