1. Get your hands on the attendee list. The trick to a successful conference or trade show is to get the attendee list as soon as possible. Most of your competitors won’t worry about getting the list but will wait to see what kind of leads they can drum up by sitting at their booths, lamely attempting to woo passers-by with a chance to win an iPad or some other goodie.
It’s a crazy strategy to go where your dream clients are and sit at a booth and wait for them to come upon you by chance. Yet, this is what salespeople and sales organizations do. But your most fierce, aggressive, hunter-type competitors won’t be anywhere near their booths. They will be engaged in higher-value activities. They’ll take the next couple of steps.
2. Call the list. Call, don’t email the list. Email is where requests for commitments go to die. Look at your inbox right now. It’s full of all kinds of requests that have been made of you, and you are leaving them there because they don’t require you to make a decision about them right now.
Pick up the phone and call the attendees you want to meet. Ask them to make a commitment to meet with you. You need to connect before the conference if you want their time, and the longer you wait to call, the less likely it is that you will make it onto your dream client’s calendar.
3. Schedule meaningful appointments. It’s a conference! People are going to meet for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks. Your dream client contacts are going to the conference to learn and to make new connections that can help them to produce greater business results. They want to get a return on their investment, and you want to schedule a meeting to help them get that return.
4. Don’t schedule your dream client for the booth. You will meet prospects at your booth. You may win some clients from your booth. But that isn’t the best strategy. Your dream client may be currently working with your competitors. They don’t always want to be seen sitting at your booth, viewing your demo or engaging in long conversations about their needs. This is why you book private meetings.
If you’ve ever sat at a booth, you know that many prospects will agree to drop by your booth but never seem to make it. Do you know why? They were meeting with your competitors, who picked up the phone and booked them for lunch.
5. Book follow-up calls and follow up. To make the most of your conference, you need to book follow-up meetings with everyone you have met with at the conference. Make sure you get something scheduled before you leave the initial meetings. The wonderful meetings you had during the conference need to be converted into post-conference sales calls. This is where you will get a return on your conference investment. Also plan to follow up with every new person you met during the conference. And don’t wait months to do so.
For stellar conference success, follow these simple rules: Work the conference before the conference, stay out of the booth, then work the conference after the conference.
Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go http://thesalesblog.com/s-anthony-iannarino/