Sharks like these Great Whites, are expert chunk removers
Today, I’m going to highlight something fundamental to sales success in relation to trade shows. Oh, and I will be mentioning sharks too albeit very briefly. Mainly, this is about trade shows.
I want to highlight something that is often overlooked by business owners and even by sales people. Selling a product or service in B2B, is usually achieved via a process.
In other words, there are usually several or many, preliminary steps that have to be gone through before an order is actually placed. And the number of steps leading-up to a sale can vary depending on what it is you are selling.
But you know this already
Yes, you know this big secret already. This is basic sales knowledge. You were probably taught or told about “the steps of a sale” even if you don’t work in sales.
If you work in marketing, some of your work will be directed towards “feeding the sales funnel.”
You and other marketeers know that you have to produce collateral for the different stages of the sales process. You need to keep that funnel fed otherwise there won’t be any sales at the end of it.
And yet, the important element of the process or what I call the sales line, is overlooked when it comes to trade shows. How exhibitions can and do impact the sales process line. It’s the speeding-up attribute which trade shows possess, that is so often overlooked. More on that shortly.
The sales process line in practice
For the majority of businesses, receiving an order directly from another business, that you have had no prior contact with, would be unusual. In fact, you would say that it probably never happens.
Before an order is placed, generally, there has to be some kind of preliminary work done. There has to be contact and some form of information-exchange between the buyer and seller.
This may not be true if you sell products or services only via a website. But if this isn’t your company’s sole sales method, then orders received usually do arrive after some kind of process has been gone through. Typically this looks a bit like the steps below or something very similar.
- A potential customer does a web search or sees an advertisement or editorial for your product or service
- They think that this could be useful/helpful to them
- They visit your company’s website to learn more about the product and your business
- They may request further details or a visit from a representative
- Following this, the potential client may then request a detailed quotation
- Later, they may fine-tune their requirements and request a revised quote
- There may be multiple revisions and bits of fine-tuning
- For high value orders, it’s likely that more than one visit to the client may be required before final order details are agreed
- If agreement is reached, the order gets confirmed and your business commences a relationship with your new client
- However, at various stages along the route and for many different reasons…
- Prospective clients fall-out of the process and are lost as sales
Sales: The long and the short of it
Depending on what your business offers, the process can be shorter or longer than that described above.
The more costly the item or service that you sell, the more steps there are likely to be. There may also be some repetition of one or more of those steps. Regardless, there is a process that takes place.
Trade shows can speed-up the sales process line
What’s not understood by many would-be exhibitors, is the part that trade shows can play in speeding-up the sales process.
In fact, exhibitions can help your company to cross the sales finishing line with new clients much faster than most other sales channels.
Shows do this better because of their ability to cut-out some or many of the stages you usually go through in a typical sales process line. What’s even better, trade shows can perform this feat with multiple companies at the same time.
How shows get you down the sales track faster
- Lots of visitors can see your product and other similar ones first-hand
- They can get full details on how your service works and compare to others
- They may also get to see your product being demonstrated
- Personal contact is established straightaway – buyers get a feel for how your company does business
- Generally, you meet decision makers at an exhibition or the people involved in the decision-making process within their businesses
- There is no time required by you for list building or research – potential buyers are coming to you and you capture their details
- Accurate time lines for orders can be established. Buyers will tell you when they need their order to be available
- You are then in direct contact with numerous live prospective clients and have saved a huge amount of preliminary sales work
Speeding-up works for visitors too: That’s why they love trade shows
This speeding-up quality, works for visitors too. Attending a trade show can move their business faster down the supply line.
Trade shows help buyers to solve supply problems faster. They also make it easier to find new product lines quickly and efficiently. With access to lots of suppliers, ideas and products in one place, attendees massively reduce their search time.
They can move from initial interest to receiving detailed quotes, samples or presentations in a matter of days. The whole thing is just so much more time-efficient. Weeks or months can be saved when compared with the time needed to trawl through potential suppliers on the web. To which you would also need to add time to complete all of the fact-finding stages described earlier.
A simple sales process diagram
The diagram above, is a simple illustration of the sales process
Usually the path does not run this smoothly. Much more likely a chart like this would include many more steps and arrows. Some of those arrows would be going backwards and sideways as new things are added to the mix. There might be pauses too as some potential orders get stalled for a while along the way.
Trade shows and sharks: Both can take huge chunks out of things
If you are wondering how to move your sales revenues upwards and quickly, think about trade show participation.
If you want to cut-out list building, lots of fact-finding phone calls and unanswered emails, think about trade show participation as a way to move to orders received faster.
Good trade shows are like sharks in that, they are both great at biting big chunks out of things.
Luckily for exhibitors, the thing that shows bite and remove is huge amounts of valuable sales time. They can get you along the track and over the sales finish line faster than most other channels to your market. So shorten the sales line and make more sales.