Onsite connections are the key to future sales success.
By Alex Yewdell
If you are interested in outsourcing your exhibit hall sales needs, but are not sure how these new sales representatives will interact with your meetings and marketing teams—you’re not alone. In fact, this is a great question and common concern. When we partner with a new association at Blue House Sales Group, we consider ourselves to be another member of your staff. And that means being there to help in any capacity we can.
We will work hand in hand with your meetings and marketing teams towards the common goal of advancing your group’s mission and improving your non-dues revenue. While selling is our bread and butter—and quite honestly our passion—our approach is always through the lens of customer service and providing the best experience for all parties involved. In order to do that, we believe it’s important for us to be present and active at your annual meetings. Over the years, we have found that having our account managers onsite is beneficial to both the success of the show and future sales.
Success starts with understanding.
Being onsite at your meeting gives our sales team a first-hand look at how the event is run, how the exhibit hall serves your attendees and how your vendors utilize this face-to-face time to connect with your audience. Above all, it allows us to pick up invaluable information about the companies we are selling to.
Oftentimes the biggest takeaway from meeting with the vendors onsite is a greater understanding of their goals. What is most important to their company? For some, it’s reaching certain members or pushing a particular message. For others, it’s simply offering a solution that is targeted to your members and attendees.
By gaining a clearer picture of each vendor’s priorities, we are then able to sell more effectively in the future. When we know what they want to accomplish, we can better recognize a suitable opportunity when it presents itself—and know who to call right away.
Customer Service is always at our core when it comes to selling.
Though sales is always our underlying goal, we are not actively selling or pushing add-ons when onsite. In fact, it is quite the opposite—we are there simply to help. From set-up to tear-down, we are making sure everything runs according to plan. As an account manager, you are fully ingratiated in every aspect of the exhibit hall planning—and that means you are often privy to little details that could easily be overlooked.
A perfect example of this is occurred at one of our client’s recent annual meetings. Just a few weeks before the conference, a longtime supporter and premium sponsor was acquired by a different company. When we got to the exhibit hall to assist with the build out, we quickly noticed that this company’s booth was being assembled with signage that featured its old logo. We immediately got on the phone with our point of contact to confirm what we were seeing. Our hunch was spot on; the wrong logo was being used. We immediately notified the exhibitor service company constructing the booth and worked with them to update the logos that were being printed. With roughly 24 hours before the opening event, we were able to get the correct logos printed and installed in time.
We believe that this level of attention to detail makes all the difference. Our thought process is simple: go out of your way to make sure every exhibitor has a positive experience so that when selling for the next year, those conversations start on a high note.
The art of the upsell.
As I mentioned above, we do not feel that the meeting is the best time to pitch or sell other opportunities. Instead, we use this one-on-one time with our exhibitors to educate and make sure they are aware of all the opportunities available to them. This is the fun part—when upselling becomes an art!
There are many ways to highlight your marketing opportunities without overtly selling. You just need to be creative and thoughtful. For example, you can provide your exhibitors with a Welcome Kit that includes issues of your publication and Onsite Program. If they weren’t previously aware of your publication, this will give them a chance to check it out during down time in the exhibit hall. As they flip through the pages, they will likely notice the other exhibitors who may have taken advantage of different marketing opportunities—planting the seed for future sales conversations to come.
We enjoy the relationships we create and build when we are onsite at clients’ meetings. It is always fulfilling to put a face to a name and we believe these in person interactions positively contribute to our success when selling. Whether it’s our team at BHSG, another company or your own staff, we believe it’s important for sales people to be present and available at every meeting.