When sales leaders are asked where they get their referrals, close to 100% will answer from past or existing customers. When asked why they attend trade shows and in-person events, these same individuals will say that they expect to build new relationships that will drive referrals.
What is the best way to secure a strong referral pipeline? How can trade shows and in-person events bolster these efforts?
At MEET, we support our clients in all aspects of trade show strategy, from prospect identification to marketing and messaging, to building a cadre of resources that build credibility with future and existing customers.
We’ve found that one of the most effective ways to drive referrals is to focus your attention on building a strong bullpen of customer resources. Securing a strong network of resources and activating on these relationships to support the full scope of needs your customers face sends the message you are fully committed to finding new and better ways to serve them.
In other words, strengthening the bullpen equals more runs scored.
How is this done?
The value of trade shows
The first step to building your resource bullpen is to understand the primary purpose of attending trade shows. At MEET, our goal in working with B2B companies is to ensure that trade show investments are targeted toward high-quality prospects. What do we mean by high quality?
In contrast to high volume, high quality is determined by the degree to which a prospect meets three criteria: they possess a NEED, the RESOURCES to fulfill that need, and URGENCY for a solution. For simplicity, we refer to them as NEED, MONEY, NOW.
Understanding the unique value of trade shows compared with social networking events comes down to distinguishing quality from quantity. A well-designed trade show strategy identifies assumptions around who these high-quality prospects are and where to find them and sets concrete goals for the number you are aiming to meet.
Putting a number on your goal will not only help to measure the utility of a particular event, but it will also help your team in setting their own performance targets. For more tips on how and why to set measurable targets for your trade show team, check out this post.
Building your network at trade shows
Executing on your trade show strategy requires close attention to staffing. At MEET, this is something we refer to as the divide and conquer approach. It’s critical that every member of your trade show team has a clear mission, measurable goals, and feels prepared to execute on these responsibilities.
That means that your booth team (a.k.a. transaction professionals) is focused on separating prospects from the general audience and inviting them to enroll in your marketing funnel with a strong call to action. Meanwhile, your sales team is working the trade show floor, nurturing relationships with existing customers, and prospects, gaining exposure to new industry knowledge and resources, and forging new partnerships.
Questions on how to implement a divide and conquer approach? Contact us today.
Similar to that memory game you played as a kid, going to events is very much about making matches on a crowded game board. Beyond identifying new customers, trade shows are an exceptional way to strengthen that referral pipeline by improving your value as a networking partner.
Finding ways to help your clients become stronger advocates for you is always a good investment.
Own your self-introduction
Finally, ensure your team is well scripted. Whether they’re in the booth performing transactions or walking the floor securing intel and resources, it’s important that every member of your trade show team is well-trained in how to deliver your call to action and goal for being in attendance.
Part and parcel to a good introduction is also knowing your audience. That means having a clear picture of who you are aiming to meet by researching the attendee list and arriving at the event with a clear understanding of the needs you are aiming to fill from your existing customer base.
A well-scripted self-introduction makes it easier to build initial connection and credibility, which in turn will help to foster more valuable relationships.
Trade shows are no minor investment. Taking the steps to maximize ROI however, can deliver exponential results, particularly when it comes to building that referral pipeline.
For more on this topic of strategic engagement at trade shows, check out our recent webinar: How to Start Conversations and Identify Opportunities at Events. To check out all of MEET’s webinar content on how to successfully scale your company in the U.S. market, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
MEET (meetroi.com) helps international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney for a no-obligation conversation: firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (860) 573–4821.