Many building material manufacturers who exhibit at the International Builders Show will waste a lot of money.
They have no measurable objectives. They are there because they always have been or think they should. In other words, they have no real reason for being there or spending all that time and money.
Here’s how to get the most return from this big investment.
1. Be available for your current customers.
For many of your customers, especially smaller ones, this maybe the only time they get to talk to someone from your company. If they ask for a rep by name, do everything you can to find them.
Your current customers are coming to your booth for two reasons. They either want to get the answer to a question or they want to see what’s new. One of the biggest complaints builders have every year is how sales people in booths start selling them before they even know anything about them.
I know the sales manager probably got you all charged up to go kill it. My advice is to slow down and let the builder do the talking at first. Be curious about him and his business. You will then be able discuss your products in a context he will understand and appreciate.
2. Key in on new customers.
Most builders are too busy to stop at your booth if they don’t already buy from you. Unless they are having a problem with their current supplier, they aren’t likely to stop. They already think they know who you are and why they don’t buy your product.
I think this is the most valuable reason to come to a trade show, the opportunity to gain a new customer. There is no better place to convert a customer than the face-to-face interaction of a trade show.
As I mentioned above, take it slow and start by listening.
3. Make the boss earn his pay.
The senior leaders of your company should be in the booth as much as possible. They are not there to sell. They are simply there to make the customers feel valued and important.
It is very impressive to a builder when a senior level person from a manufacturer is interested in their business and takes time for a brief conversation. If leaders want to really make an impression they should hand out their business card and tell the builder to contact them at anytime.
It is also very valuable for the leader to hear how the everyday builder is doing. He can learn how the builder feels about your company and what you could do better. He usually only hears this from your largest customers whose needs are very different than a smaller customer. There are the Top 100 Builders and then there are the 88,900 of the rest of them.
4. Follow-up and Do What You Say.
The last way many exhibitors waste their money is by not following up or doing what they say. It is so bad that most builders today don’t expect the manufacturer to do what they say.
If they ask for a rep to contact them, none usually will.
If they ask for an answer to a technical question, they won’t get it.
If they ask for some information to be sent to them, they will never see it.
You spend all the money it takes to participate in a trade show. You make a good connection with a builder. Then you throw it all away by insulting the builder by not following up.
5. Check out the competition
Take some time and walk the show. Look at your competitor’s booths and see what they are doing right. It’s easy to see what you don’t like about them. Try to look at them from the builder’s perspective and see why a builder might like them. Learn from this so you can provide a better offering.
Follow these steps and on the flight home, you’ll be thinking more about the sales you made and less about those wild nights in Vegas.
This advice also works at KBIS, IRE and most other building material trade shows.