Beyond the Tradeshow - Being Relevant (The Conclusion)

Beyond the Tradeshow - Being Relevant (The Conclusion)

In my previous blog post, we continued our walkthrough of the five main stages of successful selling to planners, discussing the importance of listening and understanding. Prior to that we focused on research and engagement. This final post is all about following up.

Stage 5 - Respond:

So, you've made a connection with a planner—you have researched, you engaged, listened and understood. Now this is a very important part of the process ... how you respond!

STORYTIME: Once upon a time a planner went to IMEX and met up with 100s of suppliers. Some were too big to meet her needs, some were too small, but some, some were just right.

However, one of the "just right" suppliers did just the right thing. Instead of taking her card and saying "I'll follow-up," Mr. Just Right Supplier said, "How should I follow up with you—phone, text, email or Skype?" and, "When is a good time to follow up? Can we set a date right now that works for both of us?" This attitude reflects the active response versus the passive response.

For many planners, if you send a blanket email following the conference along the lines of "It was so great meeting you at the XX conference last Tuesday, please keep me in mind for future opportunities." The chances of it getting deleted increases greatly. This type of email looks just like the 99,000 others I received on Monday following the conference. And guess what—I don't have time to read them all and sort through who sent them.

Following a hosted buyer program or a tradeshow, planners have been inundated with new connections, information and education—somehow you need to stand out from that following the event. Therefore, by positioning yourself to respond directly, efficiently, and involving the planner in how that response will happen garners you a leg-up on the competition and is the first step in ensuring a potential long-term partnership. I will respond if we made an active connection.

I recently received an email and voicemail message from a registration software company. I received the voicemail first and barely got five seconds into it when I hit delete—cold call!  However, an email showed up and in the subject line it stated “Your PCMA Personal Request for Connection." Now again, I initially thought "cold call," but I had recently spoke at PCMA and thought maybe it was follow-up from that. And it was...

The email starting line, "When you were at PCMA I attended your session and you stated that you wished more suppliers would reach out to you directly since you are an independent planner—so I am reaching out!” She had me. I had said that and I needed to follow-up and keep my word. So I called her back and we are still communicating. I currently don’t have any business for the supplier, but her registration company comes to mind first when people ask for suggestions.

Remember to follow-up. There may not be business right away, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be business later. The key is to stay at the top of the planner radar. Factor the partnership—how you respond and when you respond should be agreed upon by the two of you.

No cold calling. Agree to it with the planner. Set a date and time if it is a phone call. Also send a reminder a couple days prior to the call. If it is an email, make sure you reference your previous discussion and the agreement to follow-up—it is smart to put this in the subject line.

The email is also a great opportunity to provide info you think the planner would find useful. If in your previous discussions or interactions you had talked about the CMP or some other topic, share any knowledge you may have learned about it.

Stop selling just the product. Sell to how the product helps the event, supports the event and will ensure the event objectives are met. All of which can be achieved through utilizing the five stages of the selling process.

On a very basic level—planners are shoppers. And according to Ken Burke, “It’s all about relevance to shoppers.”

By researching, engaging, listening, understanding and responding—differently than you used to—you will achieve the secret of what planners want and become relevant to the planner above all the other “noise” beyond the tradeshow.

Miss a "Beyond the Tradeshow" blog post? Here are links to Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in Hospitality and Tourism.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
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Editors' Note: The views expressed by contributing bloggers are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Meetings Today or its parent company.

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