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So are you selling on site, gathering or qualifying leads, qualify leads, launch a product or service, meeting or negotiating with existing customers?

It’s easy to attend exhibitions and trade shows and be uncertain if it was worth the investment. It can take a while to know if you have a long sales cycle.

To ensure your time is well invested, make a plan to work smart in preparation, on site and afterwards.

1. Start with your end in mind.

This classic Stephen Covey advice is essential.

You can’t make your clients and prospects do what you want. You can only manage your behaviour.

So be clear on what outcomes will make it worth investing in a specific event. If you aren’t completing sales on site, measure qualification conversations, disqualifications and yeses to agreed next steps. That way, you will know what actions you need to take to get the best results.

2. Why are you exhibiting or attending?

Some shows, like the massive retail property events run by the International Council of Shopping Centers are deal making. Retailers, agents and shopping centre landlords have back to back meetings looking at floor plans, and agree terms for leases in new and existing malls. It’s really time effective.

If your show is deal making style, start early. Put dedicated time into filling your diary with the clients and prospects you really want to meet.

Track the progress on appointment making weekly – so it gets the priority it deserves.

Make sure you get their mobile phone numbers and email addresses. Send them the meeting as an online appointment request.

Use their mobile if they are late for your meeting. You may not get the meeting but they’ll be more inclined to try to reschedule or meet you afterwards.

3. Get very clear on your process

If you won’t be concluding your deals on site, be your goal to qualify and get off site meeting with the decision makers? Is it more time effective to have short initial meetings at the show?

Is there prep you and your contact can do to make the face to face time really effective?

Make sure you decide so you can manage where you spend your time on site and afterwards and what you will achieve.

4. Block time out in your diary.

Do you set aside enough time to follow up and get back up to speed when you return to the office?

Block out time so you can follow up promptly. Allocate time for next step meetings & calls and to catch up with other work.

If other staff will support you in the follow up, make sure they have time blocked out too.

5. Make the date on the spot.

Don’t say “I’ll call you next week to fix a time”. Don’t be that guy or gal swirling through your phone to look for a time that works for you to have that follow up call or meeting. Have a printed diary with you.

If you have an online diary, print out the week at a view A5 size so you can get 4 weeks double printed on aA4 paper. Take 3 months diary so you don’t have to default to following up for a date afterwards.

In the evening, drop an electronic diary invite to confirm the meeting or phone call. This a simple step for a slight edge in getting faster follow up and not losing momentum. Our clients tell us that more of those post event calls actually happen because it’s in their prospects diary too.

6. Intelligence.

Make sure your whole team knows what info is useful to you. And how to feed it back so it’s corporate knowledge, not just in their head.

If you can’t meet the decision maker on site, gain intelligence on their current suppliers, their cast of characters and decision making process.

7. Find out what your competitors are up to.

Never ever criticise them to your prospects. It’s not good business practice and if they are the incumbent supplier, you may tip your prospect into recalling all the good reasons why they work with them.

Listen to what other people are saying about them. Visit their stands.

Scout for potential staff – any competitors’ staff you’d like to hire?

8.Avoid the time thieves.

It’s easy to have interesting conversation that’s fun and absorbs a deal of time without much purpose. It’s your responsibility to manage the time and move elegantly onto the next prospect to qualify them.

Know your process – qualify or disqualify for clear next steps. Agree next specific steps with your prospect while you are with them.

9. Don’t pitch – be conversational

Drop your pitch & listing the features and benefits. Develop your 30 second commercials.

Get the prospect to decide where to take the conversation.

Ask your local Sandler Trainer if you don’t know how. Click here to find your local office and to book into an Executive Briefing.

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