What’s the best way to piss off a builder, contractor or architect?
Don’t follow up on trade show leads.
Why would a building product manufacturer spend all the money it takes to exhibit at a trade show just to piss off their customers? It makes no sense, yet that’s what the majority of them do.
I recently surveyed a number of builders who were attending the International Builders’ Show. One of their biggest frustrations was the lack of follow up by the building product exhibitors.
Unfortunately, it has gotten so bad that they now don’t believe they will receive the literature they requested or a follow-up call. Even when they specifically ask to have a rep call them, they don’t believe they will hear from the manufacturer.
Each time this happens, the builders take it as an insult. They wonder how unimportant they must be to a manufacturer if they won’t follow up, even when asked. The end result is that the building product manufacturer probably would have been better off staying home and saving the money.
I mean how much sense does it make to spend all that money to insult your customers? It might be cheaper and more effective to hire Don Rickles to call them on the phone and insult them for you.
Why Does This Happen?
1. The biggest reason is no measurable goals are set for participation in the trade show. With many building material manufacturer programs, the typical goal is to simply participate in the show and have the boss like the booth. Instead, the measurable goals should be more focused on something like how many new customers are secured.
2. There is a disconnect between marketing and sales. Marketing is usually in charge of the exhibit while it is manned by sales. Many times marketing and sales are working at cross purposes. To have a successful show presence, marketing needs to engage sales during the planning stage.
3. The responsibility for the exhibit is delegated to a trade show specialist. On the surface this is a good idea because they know how to handle all of the details of a trade show. The bad part is that this person tends to be doer and not a thinker. It’s not that these people aren’t a valuable part of the process; it’s just that it’s not their job to think strategically. Their job is to get it done and to perform whatever miracles it takes to get it done on time and on budget.
4. The booth staff is poorly trained and has no accountability other than showing up.
5. The sales force is understaffed and overworked. Their opinion is that the vast majority of leads from trade shows and advertising are worthless and a waste of time.
How to Fix it.
1. Sales and marketing should set measurable sales goals for the show. Even though you won’t be taking orders at most shows, you can set goals that you then measure six or more months after the show. For example, our goal is to get 40 architectural firms to specify our product in the next months. You can track who came to the booth and then follow up months later to see if they have specified your product.
2. Leadership needs to be involved in trade shows to make sure objectives are set.
3. Booth staff needs to be trained.
2. Leads need to be treated as a valuable asset and not a hot potato to be passed around. They need to be sorted out and prioritized. Those who requested a call from a rep should at least get a phone call. Those who requested literature should be sent the materials requested or directed to the right page on the website. A senior person needs to oversee this. The trade show manager has little ability to make the sale force do anything.
Just two steps can help you stand out to your customers while your competitors keep pissing them off by not following up.