Getting Clients at Trade Shows

NASFT09Thus far, it’s been a month of trade shows. First as attendee, at the Fancy Food Show in NYC and then as an exhibitor at the Atlanta Gift Mart. I’ve met great people, created opportunities and seen some interesting behavior. I’ll post first on some observations from my perspective as a show attendee and write later about the view from the other side.

Exhibitors at the Fancy Food Show are companies with all kinds of food and beverage, as well as suppliers to the food industry. They’re selling to restaurants, caterers, gourmet markets, gift basket companies, catalogs, manufacturers, pretty much anyone with a connection to the food industry. (# of vendors) take up two full floors at the Javits Center for three days.

There were swarms of people walking the aisles, tasting samples at each booth. It’s pretty costly to exhibit, so you’d think that the people working the booths would be proactive in talking to potential customers and collecting contact information so they can follow up. Unfortunately, some of those companies are going to conclude that the show wasn’t worthwhile because their people committed the most deadly trade show sins.

At some booths, the rep was sitting in the corner reading or standing around talking to a co-worker. C’mon now, at the very least, you need to acknowledge people passing by, engage them in conversation, get them to stop. (I didn’t say accost, I said engage!) More than once, I approached a booth, looking to talk with someone and was totally ignored. One woman was clearly on the phone with a friend and handed me a business card and waved me away, perhaps so I would call her later? I threw it out.

Some of the people I did talk with never asked to scan my badge, which would give them all my contact info, or requested a business card. Follow up is key for trade show success. What are they thinking? I hope they’re not counting on attendees to contact them, even if they did hand out a pound of promotional material.

What kind of experience have you had recently as a trade show attendee?

Leading a Tribe

Seth Godin's book TribesSeth Godin is looking for leaders. In his latest book, “Tribes,” Seth claims there’s a “vast shortage of leaders” at a time when it’s never been easier for people who want to make a difference to do so. To become a tribe leader, “all you need to do is motivate people who choose to follow you.”

Cool. So I’m seeing massive opportunity in front of me and for you too. What are you passionate about? Find others who are passionate about the same thing and lead them in creating change, in making a difference in the world. It’s human nature to want to belong, to fit in. And right now, with the Internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to find others who will join you in whatever quest you’re on.

Personally, I’m building a tribe to change how people relate to each other in business and personal life. I’m building a tribe that understands the importance of sharing gratitude, of appreciation marketing, of recognizing the contributions of others to their success. Not everyone will want to be in my tribe, nor is everyone is even qualified to join. But for those who do and who are, we will impact the lives of millions by creating stronger relationships and helping others feel valued.

What tribe are you leading?

You Never Know Who’s Listening

Last week on my trip back from California to Florida, I ran into a colleague from my Execs’ Association in the Atlanta airport. He was returning from Austin and we were on the same flight to West Palm. It was funny because last year a similar thing happened in Dallas with another Execs’ colleague. And on my flight out to LA two weeks ago, I sat next to someone who ended up being at the same workshop I was attending. And then at lunch one day, I was talking about Nikki Incandela with my lunch partner, only to turn around and see Nikki sitting at the table behind me. She said she hadn’t heard me, but no matter because I was saying good things about her!

I find it fascinating how the universe arranges things. You never know who’s around you and who’s listening to your conversations. Which is exactly why it’s so important to make sure you wouldn’t mind being overheard or having the person you might be talking about hear whatever you’re saying. Goes back to that quote your grandmother may have said about “if you don’t have something nice to say…”

This whole idea fits right in with what my friend and mentor Bob Burg promotes all the time. And it’s no wonder that in return, I’ve only heard raving praise for Bob from others.

So this week, think about who might be hearing your offline conversations or seeing your online ones and remember to only say what you wouldn’t mind hearing repeated somewhere.

How Well Are You Managing Your Contacts?

In this week’s issue of his free ezine called “Sales Caffeine,” Jeffrey Gitomer talks about contact management software. He believes “every salesperson needs some form of contact control and sales organization.” However, he wonders if the people who make the software, use the software because so many sales people don’t use it, claiming it’s cumbersome, too complicated, doesn’t serve their needs, etc.

He doesn’t slam or advocate any particular software and I won’t either. Everyone has different needs and the key is finding the right database or contact management software that works for your business. But it is essential to your business’ success that you have some way to keep track of information about your clients, referral sources and probable clients (formally referred to as prospects).

Keeping a database of this info allows you to consistently communicate with them and allows them the opportunity to send you more business. I was talking with a health professional last week who was telling me about interesting developments in her industry. She had already told me she does not have her patient information compiled into one complete database. So I pointed out to her that she is depriving her patients of important information, that she may be the only one to provide, because she doesn’t have a client database. Without the client or patient database, she’s unable to reach out and generate MORE business from them. WITH that database, the task would be super easy.What about you? What business are you missing out on by not communicating with your database?