Creating a Conference Plan

By Pam Foster
December, 2017
Capitalizing on trade show season with a plan for

The projected 2018 trade show season attendance numbers are staggering.

More than 17,000 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, office managers, students, and others will be at VMX; a similar number will attend Western States, and there are at least a dozen additional conferences and trade shows in the coming year. When you think about it, it’s possible that close to 50,000 or more veterinary professionals will attend trade shows in 2018.

And, some of those professionals may be your customers.

They’ll be walking through the trade show floors, talking with product manufacturers, suppliers, service providers, software company reps and more – and making decisions about new products to buy.

But that doesn’t mean they’ll buy direct and circumvent the relationships you have with them.

Keep in mind that one of our previous blog posts highlighted the fact that surveyed clinics prefer to order products from their Distribution Sales Reps, not directly from manufacturers.

Therefore, to help you protect your customer relationships, we’ve developed a Conference Plan to use with every clinic you visit.

Is your distribution company going to have a booth at one or more trade shows in 2018? If yes, and you’re not personally attending, you can still make the most of those events with a smart Conference Plan.

Let’s look at how you can use this plan to be the go-to resource as your customers see new products during trade show season.

Your DSR Veterinary Conference/Tradeshow Plan for 2018

  • Check with your team to make sure you’ll receive any conference/tradeshow notices from the different manufacturers you represent: conference special offers, new products, other tradeshow season features. 
  • Create a spreadsheet with conference specials, new products, etc. grouped by product category: diagnostics, surgical, dental, and so forth. This will make it super easy to do the next step in your plan.
  • For each clinic you visit, create a recommended list of new products or promotions that apply to the clinic. For instance, if you know they’re looking to upgrade their current digital imaging system or add a dental suite, ask them if they’re looking at conference/trade show exhibits to see new or specific products in person. 
  • If a customer is planning to attend a conference/trade show – suggest a list of solutions the doctor or office manager may want to investigate during the show. Sit with your practice, go over your list, also ask what they want to see at the show, etc. to support their needs and help ensure that their exhibit hall time is effective. Especially at the big shows that have 800+ exhibitors!
  • Then, after the conference/tradeshow, plan to circle back so you can answer questions and help your customers place orders through you. Ask the doctor or office manager what they saw, what they liked, etc. Also, be prepared to hear about and look into products or solutions you may not be familiar with. Sometimes products get launched at trade shows, so be on the lookout for last-minute news.

  • Remind them that you’re ready to help with product orders. This will be a convenient approach for the clinic because surveys have shown that clinics appreciate and even prefer one-stop shopping via their DSR. That’s YOU!

Look through the 2018 Conference/Trade Show schedule below and make your plan accordingly.

With this strategy, you’ll protect your customer relationships and help them order the ideal products for their clinics!  

Vet-Advantage December Companion 2017 - Creating a Conference Plan, 2018 Conferences

Topics: Sales, Conferences and Trade Shows, VMX


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