Trade show schedules?
A colleague of mine and I were recently observing that people are literally coming and going, keeping up with a flurry of trade shows and conferences. My overarching counsel is to seriously slow down the pace of such movement. Too many are attending shows without a plan or even a serious objective beyond, “to stay connected and hopefully develop a sale.”
That’s a weak travel strategy that suggests nothing was learned during the pandemic slowdown and shutdown.
Trade Show Strategy
Have you seriously analyzed the true value of your travel, show, and conference schedule? Click To Tweet
I attend shows with a specific purpose, for limited amounts of time, and often as a service to clients who may not have the personnel resources to devote to various shows and conferences. This method won’t work for companies who commit to supporting a booth, but the majority of attendees are not doing booth duty. The majority are keeping up with people they already know—that doesn’t grow influence.
During my recent participation at the Defense Leadership Forum’s Pacific Contracting Summit, I tested a few questions with the audience using some live polling available through the conference mobile app. There is incredible data available through mobile app technology that can simplify how you harvest information about your audience and business prospects. Some mobile apps allow information to be downloaded for future use or a CRM tool. Most allow myriad forms of engagement with attendees. Responses to my poll questions mostly confirmed what I see anecdotally and what I learned in my research of defense executives.
– When asked where you learned how to succeed in federal sales, all but one responded, “On-the-job training.” One responded, “I read a book.”
- I can only hope the one respondent chose my “Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales!”
– When asked if you will travel to meet a federal customer this year, 70 percent responded yes.
- My suggestion is for you to cut your budget for this kind of activity in half—you will not miss a beat in revenue. Many meet their federal customer too often or at the wrong time. It feels good for you, but isn’t producing the influence you might think.
– When asked if you know the account and budget line that funds your product or service, 58 percent responded yes.
- This is not consistent with my weekly interactions with defense executives. I find the number is closer to 30 percent who can answer budget line questions in detail for the three fiscal years across each of their programs.
– When asked if you wished you could learn the federal process faster, 88 percent responded yes. Small companies who feel this way should get on with it and purchase Capitol Currency.
- I observe this is a universal response, yet most rely on OJT, peers, and mentors as their primary source of specific technical knowledge about the federal process.
– When asked if your Congressman or Congresswoman knows you, 29 percent responded yes.
- Having been around Congress for over two decades in my professional life, even this low number is too high an estimate. Your $500 or $1000 contribution and a handshake at a reception doesn’t put you on their radar. A successful relationship with Congress requires persistence.