Did you know that seven out of 10 conference attendees plan to buy one or more products? The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found 76 percent asked for quotes and 26 percent signed purchase orders.1 Here’s how to plan for successful interactions at your next veterinary conference:
Contact your best clinics two weeks before the event. If they plan to attend, let them know your booth number and explain reasons to drop by, such as product samples and show specials. Invite doctors to dinner so you take priority in their conference schedules. Make restaurant reservations in advance as popular venues may fill up fast.
Have a plan. Why are you exhibiting? Do you want to introduce a new product, meet new customers or achieve a sales goal? Create strategies before the event to attain your goal. Set measurable objectives such as to generate 250 leads or to generate $50 in sales for every $1 spent on the trade show. Don’t just give away samples. Gain insights about prospects in exchange that will help you qualify and prioritize leads.
Put your phone down. Texting or talking in the booth will scream “I don’t want to help you” to attendees. Stand up, share your smile, make eye contact and offer a friendly “Good morning” or wave. Appear approachable and eager to help.
Make your name badge visible. Lanyards measure 17 inches, and then add another 4 inches for your name badge. Attendees may be looking at your bellybutton to get your name. Tie a knot in the cord so your name badge rests on your chest and won’t flip backwards when you walk or socialize with colleagues. If the name badge has a clip, fasten it to your right collar so colleagues will make eye contact with your name badge when shaking hands.
Pack twice the amount of business cards you’ll need. Running out signals you weren’t prepared. Store a dozen business cards in the back of the plastic sleeve that holds your name badge. If you have business cards within reach, you’ll share more of them. When you give a business card to a doctor, write a note on the back about the item discussed and when you’ll follow up. This helps the veterinarian remember details of your booth conversation after the event.
Plan meaningful minutes. Because attendees spend an average of 5 to 15 minutes in a booth, follow four steps to successful conversations from CEIR:
1. Engage: 30 seconds. Invite attendees into the booth and ask questions that won’t get yes-or-no answers.
2. Qualify: 2 minutes. Determine whether the prospect is a decision-maker and what information to present.
3. Present: 5 to 8 minutes. Explain how your product meets the prospect’s needs, not just regurgitating everything you know. Prepare for common objections and questions.
4. Close: 1 minute. Collect lead information, agree on next steps and move onto the next attendee.
Set follow-up appointments. During the trade show, schedule in-clinic visits for next week to discuss your products, provide in-clinic training, meet with additional doctors to answer questions or place orders. If you can’t coordinate face-to-face meetings, call prospects.
Follow up promptly. Almost 80 percent of leads generated are never followed, according to CEIR. Don’t let 30 days pass before you call or visit. Attendees will forget details of your trade-show interaction. Prompt response demonstrates that you follow through on promises and creates company loyalty.
- The value of trade shows increases with a plan. Accessed 02-19-16 atwww.orbus.com/about-us/the-value-of-trade-shows/.
Wendy S. Myers owns Communication Solutions for Veterinarians in Castle Pines, Colo. She helps teams improve client service, communication skills and compliance through consulting, seminars and monthly CE credit webinars. Her latest book is 101 Communication Skills for Veterinary Teams. Wendy’s new “Callers Into New Clients Course” will teach receptionists how to turn more price shoppers into lifetime clients. You can reach her at
email@example.com or www.csvets.com.