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Adam Ginty Marketing Manager at Lyme Media & Events Ltd set the debate going by questioning the value of face to face at exhibition encounters in the modern selling era.
In a later thread he wrote
“For the vast majority of (field-based) salespeople, attending exhibitions either as an exhibitor or as a punter ( exhibitions) will be a very rare event compared to the frequency with which they could/should be prospects and customers."
Measurement of return of marketing investment (ROMI) was also mooted by many forum contributors.
“We've tried and tested the merits and costs of each tactic and can apply these on a sale by sale basis."
Some forum members employ cost per sale targets, but they have found there is a spread and some sales are more involved at a higher cost compared to some which are way under Cost per Sale targets, - so they also monitor average cost per sale to analyse overall Gross Profit
As sales professionals in the Selling 2.0 era, we have got bag of tools to use as and when the situation dictates a particular tactic.
This has been described as ranging FROM; Tweet, Re-tweet, email, phone call, proposal then close (and an add on Linked In) - TO; Phone call, email, meeting, (a series of) phone calls etc. etc. to close.
A number of the discussion forum members raised additional “horses for courses” type arguments. But maybe to continue the equine metaphor we in sales need to “avoid putting the cart before the horse” before we even enter and run the race!
So here are some fundamental questions to help clarify our thinking:
- How important is it for you to meet people with the power to make decisions?
- How well attended-is the show for your industry?
- Will it give you the opportunity to meet more key buyers?
Past attendance visitor attendance data are worth considering but how were they audited? ( ABC measured?).
If you are investing in the exhibition to generate new business leads
What does the show’s marketing campaign consist of? (before, during and after the event)
e.g. advertising, ticket inserts, direct mail and electronic marketing, how does it target its audience
As an exhibitor you will be exposed to actively interested buyers, before, during and after the show.
Exhibiting at an exhibition enables you to meet more professionals at one time and gives you access to new prospects.
Buyers come to you
Well of course your stand presence needs to be attractive
An exhibition is the place buyers come to compare, contrast, source and select new venues and services
. The decision-makers and influencers who are your customers take time out of their busy schedules to come to see you.
Face-to-face contact is one of the most effective sales channels and at an exhibition you can meet more customers than at any other event. This makes an exhibition both cost effective and time efficient, resulting in one of the highest returns on marketing investment.
With the number of conventional face to face one on one meetings reducing in B2B sales exhibitions are a way to meet and nurture clients.
Meeting your existing customers can be part of retaining and developing business. At an exhibition you can benefit from a networking environment in which you can consolidate and develop existing business relationships, as well as gain new business leads and build your brand.
If your competitors are at the show do you need to be too? Your presence can remind your existing customers why they buy from you.
So there is life in the 'old horse' of exhibitions yet. Exhibitions will have to fight for their place in the ever widening array of marketing communications channels available in the selling 2.0 era - whether selling competes 'on the flat or 'over the fences'.Click for free executive summary of the Buyers Views of salespeople research study