FOLLOW UP ON INFOCOMM15.
"Put the machine gun down"
Recently, I wrote about how far too many exhibitors at Infocomm15 “Facted the Clients to death”. The response was overwhelmingly positive, but it was also confused. Many people understand the power of stories to help explain a business concept that is easy to digest, but many had trouble understanding what a story might look like in the real world.
During my time at Lifesize, I helped craft a number of stories around explaining technologies in a way that clients and partners found interesting and accessible. To that end, I have three videos to share as way of demonstration.
Every 30 minutes we ran a 10 minute presentation showing our technology in a fun, interesting and informative way. It enabled potential clients to see what could be achieved in a non-threatening way. No sales person was grabbing them by the throat. They got to sit down and take the weight off their feet, got a basic understanding of what could be achieved, and if it interested them they could speak to our team for more information.
Here is the video displayed on the screen for Infocomm14. "Get Connected"
- The demonstration is canned, consistent, professional and controlled.
- It gave a potential client an overview in 10 minutes. Two professionals from the booth are tied up, but they are tied up speaking to an audience of 15-30 people at a time. That is a far more effective use of resources than 10 sales people all attempting to have the same conversation.
- The sales team was free to speak to warm prospects! People who had gone through the demonstration and understood that the product had some interest for them were the ones ready, willing and able to engage with a salesperson.
- The demonstration created a sense of urgency and energy around the booth. The speakers were Mic’d up, had lots of energy and helped attract a crowd.
- We did not have to teach our sales team a script for the show. We had professionals who had practised back at base before the show and knew what they were to say. The video played as part of the process cost under $20k, which by tradeshow standards is small potatoes.
- The giveaways on the booth were distributed in a controlled way. It wasn’t simply a free for all for the good stuff and then desperately trying to give away the crappy pens.
Multiple thousand people went through the process each year. More importantly than the raw numbers of leads, was that the quality of people scanned at the booth was top notch. Having watched the speakers they had some understanding of the technology and how it might benefit them. As a result, when the telesales team rang those clients they remembered the Lifesize booth, our funny video, and the guys who presented to them far more than the vast array of dull conversations they had on the multitude of other booths.
Additionally the video had the advantage that even if our A team were not available for the demonstration any member of the team had a good fall back position for the demonstration.
Executive Briefing Centers. The missed opportunity.
Here’s another thing to consider. Executive Briefing Center (EBC) visits are often a combination of panic, frustration and lost opportunity.
When clients come to visit your Corporate Headquarters, they are expecting to be wowed. Unfortunately, it rarely happens. The sales lead for the account is typically in charge of the process even though they are rarely based at the Headquarters. As a result, they don’t know the local traffic and how to get the client to the office from the airport. They don’t know where to take them for a good local dinner and end up taking them to the ubiquitous steak house. They don’t know the key people onsite who will able to excite and enthuse the client. None of this might sound important, but actually it’s vital.
Does the Queen think everywhere smells like fresh paint?
If a client is spending their own money to come and see you, then you matter to them. Your response to their EBC visit demonstrates very clearly how much they matter to you, too.
Your EBC visits need to be thought of as Royal visits. There’s a saying in Britain, “Wherever the Queen goes smells of fresh paint.” Historically, when the Queen bestowed the honor of her presence, people prepared for her visit by renovating their homes, purchasing new furniture, repainting all rooms and making sure everything looked new and fresh in anticipation for her arrival. There is always a sense of occasion for a royal visit, the same should be true for a client EBC.
Too often, clients are sat in a Executive Briefing and presented to by a series of senior managers, most of whom have never read the notes provided to them in preparation for the visit and never get to the important points the clients have come to hear. Why would companies continue to think this is acceptable? The client needs to feel they have experienced the company on an intimate level that could only be achieved by an onsite visit. They should feel that they have met important people who care about their business and experienced things that they could not have if they were sitting in a conference room at their own facility.
The sense of occasion required for a successful EBC visit requires that the clients meet different people within the organisation and most importantly that they are made to feel special. Small touches including how they are picked up and transported from the airport, where they dine, what goodies are provided from the company that they get to take home to their families, they all matter. I’m not suggesting or even recommending you spend large amounts of money for every EBC visit, but there is a way to create a thoughtful experience and provide thoughtful gifts that will resonate with your clients.
Creating one “Royal Visit”-like EBC experience can be achieved, but the real trick is to turn the EBC into a machine. Cycle through clients twice a day. The whole process needs to be slick and automated and that takes effort and planning. Studies have proven time and again that EBC visits are powerful sales tools.
Clients come to EBC’s because they like you. They are prepared to give you the most vital of things, their time. It is a gift, accept it with humility and give them something back. Give them what they are asking for, give them a great reason to continue to buy from you or a reason to start. Give them a story.
You think they came on the lot to get out of the rain?
There is easily a book's worth of material on how to prepare a booth, an EBC and a sales strategy in a way conducive to storytelling. I know because I’m writing that book, but for now I hope this article gives you pause for thought, and perhaps a sense that much more can be achieved with your existing resources.
Before that book gets written, I’m just about to publish “The End of Certainty. How to thrive when playing by the rules is a losing strategy.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about the book please feel free to drop me a line. sdudley@ExcessionEvents.com
More to explore
In an era when the Average Sales Price (ASP) of technology is steeply declining, a strategy in which clients come to your facility scales far better than hundreds of one-to-one meetings conducted by your outside sales team. It also fits perfectly with a lower cost inside sales strategy.
There is much more to consider, but of course the devil is in the details. I hope this article helps you understand the potential and what can be achieved.
To learn how I can help your organisation get so much more from trade shows and Executive Briefing Center (EBC) events, contact me for more details: sdudley@ExcessionEvents.com