By Michael Criscuolo
In times of unforeseen catastrophe – the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2008 financial crisis, 9/11 – businesses are confronted with unprecedented challenges, from plummeting revenue streams to navigating employee retention and potential furloughs, even paying the rent. Sales and marketing teams are quickly finding their previously planned trade shows and meetings are postponed or cancelled. How, then, can sales leaders, marketing teams, and product managers support business continuity and continue to meet with key clients and prospects under such challenging circumstances? One way is by engaging in strategic, alternative meeting planning. The purpose of this article is to outline four ways to meet when attending your trade show or conference is no longer possible.
#1: BRING YOUR BEST REGIONAL CLIENTS + PROSPECTS TO YOU
While travel restrictions may be in place and affecting your sales force’s ability to fly out to key prospects, your best regional clients and prospects within a day’s drive may still be able to meet with you face-to-face within your own facility. Hosting small groups of clients and prospects across a staggered and prescheduled appointment calendar will allow for critical business development meetings to still take place. If your sales and marketing teams are not allowed to travel to the trade show floor, bring the trade show experience to your facility. Properly designed and branded public-facing spaces, such as lobbies, transition hallways, and conference rooms can help to support your brand image and convey key messaging while conducting those important revenue-generating meetings.
Showrooms, Customer Experience Centers, and Executive Briefing Centers are where many companies close high-end sales opportunities. Utilizing these dedicated spaces when there is no real option to travel externally offers many other advantages that these locations help to achieve:
- Close high-end sales opportunities faster
- Increase likelihood of winning repeat sales and expand upsell opportunities
- Strengthen relationships with key buyers and prospects
- Make a memorable impression that inspires visitors
- Enhance the company brand
- Demonstrate products, especially technology-driven products
- Gain insights into customer needs for future development
Keeping these goals in mind allows a company to better focus their own design criteria and to justify the investment in creating these special spaces.
#2: BUILD A MOBILE SHOWROOM
Designing and building a visually compelling mobile showroom will allow you to take your story on the road. Enlist your top sales and marketing team members to create a map of prospective and existing clients and a planned route for prescheduled sequential stops. If your clients are not able to come to you, take your products to them for meetings right outside their facilities. There are hundreds of “on the lot” options available for smaller utility trailers, gooseneck trailers, and large toy haulers. Trailer bodies can be custom ordered, as well, with taller ceiling heights, custom light soffits, upgraded HVAC, upgraded generators, slide outs for expanded space, and higher end glass entry doors. Trailer exteriors can be wrapped completely with printed vinyl brand graphics to catch attention on the road and when parked on site. And trailer interiors can be designed and upfit with product demo displays, info graphics, monitors, touch screens, VR applications, and custom furniture for comfortable discussions.
#3: HOST REAL-TIME VIRTUAL MEETINGS
When corporate and governmental restrictions keep you from bringing visitors into your facility, rely more heavily on web-based video conferencing apps, such as Skype, GoToMeeting, WebEx, Zoom, and even FaceTime.
Implementing a shotgun approach to scheduling a large volume of face-to-face virtual meetings on a rolling basis over the coming weeks or months will ensure:
- your sales team maintains contact with their best clients and deals
- continues to uncover new leads
- keeps communication flowing
Try to invite newer operational and functional stakeholders into your virtual meetings with existing contacts to identify opportunities to cross-sell your products or services. Remember, the catastrophe that is negatively affecting your revenue generation and business operations today will eventually pass. Your opportunity is to not just weather this disruption, but rather leap frog your competition. Tenured successful business leaders have long professed their greatest successes emerged from market turbulence such as we’re seeing today. Your long term goal should be pipeline growth and operations preparedness for when things finally return to normal.
Brand your background! Every contact with external visitors is an opportunity to represent your brand. This applies to web video conferences, too. Your virtual meeting guests will see you and the blank wall behind you. Use this opportunity to brand the experience with your logo, signage, and custom fixtures and displays that enhance the overall brand experience.
#4: CREATE WEB-BASED USER-DRIVEN VIRTUAL TOURS OF YOUR SHOWROOM, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE CENTER, INNOVATION LAB, OR EXECUTIVE BRIEFING CENTER
Creating a virtual 3D tour of key client-facing areas within your facility is a great way to share that space in a sales or marketing driven meeting, whether off site and in person, or virtually through a web-hosted meeting or marketing campaign. An exact model of your existing showroom, customer experience center, innovation lab, or executive briefing center can be built and easily hosted online to share with clients and prospects. You can guide your keys contacts through a virtual representation of your best selling space exactly in the same way that you would guide them through a tour in the real environment. Hosting this virtual experience on your website allows you to use it as a selling tool while suffering through tough times, and as a lead retrieval tool at all other times. Create email marketing campaigns that strategically draw targeted visitors to your virtual space and beyond to other parts of your website with built-in Calls To Action such as contact numbers and contact forms.
This article was inspired by "4 Ways To Close the Sale Following Trade Show Cancellations" by Michael Criscuolo, and first appeared at www.skyline-etips.com/