Most companies don’t bring home enough deals to justify the enormous expense of exhibiting at Trade Shows, Expos etc. Dianna Geairnshows businesses proven and innovative strategies to help them to create a winning strategy before the show, to dominate at the show and to generate and turn leads into deals when you get home and back to their offices.
Dylis: Hi there, this is Dylis Guyan and welcome to The Inspired Selling Podcast. A place where business owners and salespeople discover how to attract, convert and keep more of their ideal clients.
I have got a fabulous guest for you today. I have Dianna Geairn. Now Dianna focuses solely on helping businesses convert trade show leads into deals and she focuses solely on that. She really is top of her game. Because most companies don’t bring home enough deals to justify the enormous expense of exhibiting, she shows them proven and innovative strategies to help them to create a winning strategy before the show, to dominate at the show and to generate and turn leads into deals when you get home and back to their offices.
I am excited to talk today and really take a deeper dive and get insight from her because I know for my clients that this is one of the areas that they really struggle with. They spend a lot of time going to shows but they don’t come home with much to show for it. Dianna welcome, I’m absolutely thrilled to have you with us today.
Dianna: Thank you Dylis. I’m very happy to be here. Thank you.
Dylis: Excellent, so let’s just dive straight in then Dianna. For those who may be are not familiar with trade shows. Maybe they’ve never been before and they really would like to get involved could you just explain to us what a trade show is?
Dianna: Sure, so every industry has their own event. Sometimes people call them summits, some people call them expos, some people call them conferences and some people just call them the traditional trade show. What a trade show is all about is sort of a stand-up market place that happens over a period. Sometimes a week, sometimes two to three days but it’s a place where experts come together. You usually have speakers and sessions and educational tracks if you want to know a little bit more about the specifics of your industry. One of the elements of a trade show is there’s usually an exhibit hall. Dylis I know you’ve been to many of these but what an exhibit hall does it will allow companies to serve the industry that the conferences, the summit or expos are all about to sort of exhibit their wares. In a way, it’s sort of a mini shopping mall that gets put up over…Sometimes they’re not mini at all, sometimes they’re very ginormous but it’s sort of an opportunity for you to stand up your store and put your best foot forward and demonstrate what your product and service is all about to the industry that you’re serving.
Dylis: Why should anyone consider going to one of these because you know people might go, ‘Oh yes, trade shows, exhibitions, this is going to cost us a lot of money it’s going to cost us a lot of time,’ so why should they even think about going?
Dianna: That’s a great question because you’re absolutely right. Some of these conferences are enormously expensive. The reason they’re expensive is because there is such value to be gained from participating. There’re a number of reasons to go and I think it’s important as you’re determining what shows or what summits you want to go to. What your objectives are. I know Dylis that you talk a lot about that with your clients of let’s start with an end in mind. Let’s talk about what are the objectives that you’re trying to accomplish. What’s really brilliant about trade shows is there are so many objectives that you can accomplish all at the same time which can make the spend really worth it.
One of the things that’s important about the show is you get to go and you get to listen to the latest trends. You get to hear what the thought leaders are speaking about. Why that is important is, first of all, it could be enormously personally fulfilling. If you really are into your industry and you get to hear these new inspiring thoughts and these new trends. It makes you a better professional. Then you can bring that value back to your clients, right? I’m sure one of the things that you’ve talked about a lot with your clients is the way to get your customers’ attention is to bring them new insights.
Dylis: Yes indeed.
Dianna: You can pick up all these wonderful insights. That’s kind of fluffy because what we’re talking about is trade show makeover is, how do you come home with more leads and deals? Those leads turn into deals to justify the spend.
So if you can get more meetings because you can bring insights fantastic but I don’t know how many of your sellers take advantage of opportunistic selling. Opportunistic selling is ripe at a conference because there are a number of different areas where you can “run into” your ideal customer. I say run into in air quotes because you know, you can be very intentional and deliberate about the people you want to meet at a trade show. I speak with executives all the time that will give me interviews that will tell me, you know what, I will ignore your email. I will ignore your voicemail. I will not take your offer for a 15-minute conversation and I certainly don’t want you coming to my office and wasting my time but I’m at the trade show to make that connection. A lot of these people are men and women executives are showing up with cheques ready to write with their vendors. I’m talking about six and seven-figure deals to get done at trade shows if you do it right.
Dylis: I think a real sort of strong point that you’ve made here is that in a way you’ve got a captive audience. You don’t have that opportunity anywhere else. I know from trade shows and expos that I’ve been to and I’ve spoken at a lot of expos and you know I have met people that I would never have met had I just gone through the normal channel of you know connecting on social media, sending an email, whatever.
You have to have face to face and you end up in fact really being so connected that I have people on my show from meeting them at expos. Some really big thought leaders from around the world I’ve had on the show as a guest. Not all of them. I haven’t met them all from trade shows but I have met a number of them. I think it’s an absolutely fantastic way to get in front of your ideal clients and have that captive audience.
Dianna: Well I agree with you and as we move more to a digital world of selling. There is all this speak about how AIs are going to take all our jobs. Which the reality is a human to a human face to face interactions have a much higher value. The more that we have that digital kind of experience being the norm. It’s not the norm anymore for everybody to hop on a plane and go see their prospects in their territories, right? It’s really the norm to start with a digital conversation or start with a telephone conversation so the value of face to face and the value of human to human selling is getting exponentially higher.
What most people don’t realise, I think this is an important number, so I want people to perk up and listen to this? My CMOs tell me that they’re constantly measuring what is the cost per appointment? What is the cost to acquire a client?
If you do trade shows well you can reduce the cost per appointment and a face to face appointment at that by 40%. If you do the work before, during and after that is appropriate. Here’s where people fall down on the job Dylis because you could preach all day long. Prepare or follow-up, everybody knows that that’s what you should be doing so that’s not really helpful. Most people find that they don’t know what to plan, when to plan or how to plan and then on the back end they don’t know what to do, when to do it or how to do it with your follow up so that it’s effective. Those are things when you just break those three things down what, when and how to do each of those activities then you can start really reap the benefits from your investment.
Dylis: That is exactly it, when I talk to my clients, they tell me exactly that, ‘I don’t know what? I don’t know how to prepare and so on.’ I know that you’re going to talk to us in much greater detail so come and tell us about your Create, Dominate And Generate. I love those three words, could you explain each one and expand on each one and if you could give us examples of that would be even better.
Dianna: I am happy to do that. What we find is… I’m sure is a little bit of the idiom but you know, a confused mind says no, right? In our training, there’re so many elements to a trade show that it could get overwhelming so we really like to break it down into very simple, easy to digest and easy to implement which is the most important thing little bite sized pieces.
Create is all about creating the winning strategies. Dominate is all about dominating at the show. Dominating your plans. Then generate is all about return on investment and turning those leads into deals. Just to expand a little bit on them.
Create is actually a process that we’ve developed. It’s our own proprietary process of first evaluating what are the shows you should be going to you know like, are your ideal customers going to be there? Then should you exhibit at the show or should you watch the show? Sometimes attending the show is your better bet. Sometimes exhibiting is more important, so kind of working through those things.
Then budget planners and exactly what you talk about is, what is our goal? What are our intentions? If there’s a product that we’ve launched that we really want to get visibility for and start taking orders for, that maybe the marketplace doesn’t know about and this is the perfect opportunity for us to put our best foot forward. That’s what creative is all about. It’s really creating that winning strategy. Almost everything about a trade show happens in the create section.
How you’re going to follow up? The marketing emails that you’re going to send afterward. Who the leads are going to go to? How are they going to get distributed all of the things, if you think through them at the beginning it just puts the process into place and then you do the…you just run the machine and it works.
Dylis: I think you know that I do a lot of speaking and I speak at a lot of expos and I’m always offered a stand, but I never take a stand. Beforehand I’d go around, and I see who is there, and I have a chat with some people and tell them that I’m going to be speaking and come along and so on. I get a feel for who is there and then when I’m finished…did you say walk the hall?
Dianna: I said walked the floor but same thing.
Dylis: Walked the floor, yes. That what I do, I walk the floor and I go and I talk to people. I love meeting people and I love hearing about their businesses and it’s such a fantastic opportunity because everyone there you know are all businesses owners at one level or another. It is just a really great opportunity. I’m not sure that enough people think about walking the floor.
Dianna: Dylis you’re pointing to something very interesting because the trade show organisers do not want us to have this conversation because they need the exhibitors, right? One of the clients that we worked with are trade show organisers, so they are retaining more exhibitors and they are offering their exhibitors more value. Mostly what they just need to do is offer some more training, but the organisers are strapped. They’ve got millions different things to manage. They rely on us to do the work with their exhibitors so that their exhibitors know what to get from the show.
There are certain things that you’ll be able to ask for and get from one show that wouldn’t be appropriate in another show, right? When you really learn how the show works and what it’s designed to do, then you can be appropriate with your exhibiting so that it really does turn in the cash for you. But you’re right some shows it’s the best thing for you to walk it.
Dylis: Even if you have a stand, there could be a few of you from the same company and one could man the stand and the others could walk the floor.
Dianna: That’s perfect that leads right into dominate at the show.
Dylis: Yes, excellent.
Dianna: One of the big mistakes that we see that most people will make is they don’t bring enough people and they don’t bring the right people to the show. I don’t want to go too much on the leads on it but you should always have your senior person of your company at the show.
You should have your product/marketing manager or your marketing manager at the show. You should have a top Salesperson at the show but you should also have a newbie at the show. You can ramp a salesperson so much faster at a show in your industry. Get to know the competition get to know the people you are talking about. You can ramp your salespeople so much faster and we know that one of the biggest expenses that any company has is how long it takes to ramp up a salesperson. If you get them all divided-
Dylis: This is music to my ears, Dianna.
Dianna: Right? If you get them all excited and they’re sitting there with the Senior Manager and they understand their competition and they see the bigness and then they close the deal through the trade shows now you’re retaining that salesperson. It’s really good to have the right mix. Like you’ve said, be opportunistic about it. Have people at the booth and have people walking the floor and you can cover all of it. That’s dominating at the show. It includes Social Media strategies. It includes content strategies. It includes booths that sells for you but that’s what dominates at the show is all about just like you’ve said.
Dylis: Just talk to us for a moment then about approaching, because that must be dominate bit too. This is where people are approaching someone that they don’t know or someone… Actually, we can talk about these two things. In fact, we can talk for probably three hours. We’ve got half an hour. Let’s do our best. I’m just looking at the practicalities of this. You’re at the booth and there are people passing. Let’s first off start with that. How would you stop someone professionally to have that conversation with you?
Dianna: This is such a great conversation Dylis because it really comes back to the prep, right? Your salespeople and the people at the booth need to be prepped on the questions that they’re going to be asking of the people that they need. We’re not going into the leads on the questions, but the questions are all about making sure that the person that you’re talking to is a qualified buyer. Now it doesn’t mean you’re going to be rude if they’re not. You know asking very targeted questions that help somebody get very comfortable and sharing with you what they’re interest is in being at your booth.
This is now your home, right? You’re inviting people into your home which means you are not going to wrangle them and scan their badge because that would be rude. You’re going to invite them in, you’re going to be gracious, and you’re going to be clear. I think that is something that is really missing. You’ve got to be clear that you are in business to do business.
I think that if we could just have people come with…just change that one attitude about trade shows. We’re in business to do business and it’s okay to ask business questions now. If you’re really good, you’ll be prepared for the people you expect to be at the show and know exactly what’s going to happen and the team can be on high alert. You’ll probably have two or three people from an enterprise organisation that you know that if you had an opportunity to sell to them and have the proper conversations that you would do well at the show.
So you can have signals with your team like VIP is here and it’s on, right? You’re already orchestrated, you’re already prepared, and it can be a very elegant dance but the first and most important thing is understanding the questions that you are going to ask, and why you’re going to ask them. The other thing is no selling. We teach our clients that your exhibit is a discovery zone.
Dylis: Thank the Lord.
Dianna: No, pitching your product on the floor unless somebody’s there for that conversation and you set that up ahead of time. Otherwise, you’re in a discovery zone, it’s perfectly appropriate for you to ask to set a meeting for after the show but let people relax into the experience with your brand. You very rarely get the opportunity to share that experience of your brand, except for in-person, like a show.
Dylis: If you start selling and talking product too soon and as you know I call that “p-ing” too soon, talking product to soon.
Dianna: That’s still perfect.
Dylis: It’s what I call pebble-dash selling because you just regurgitating everything about your product and hoping against hope that something will stick. You don’t even know what the gap areas are. What are the challenges? What are the problems? What are the impacts of those? I’m loving this, this is absolute…as I said before, music to my ears because it just reiterates my deep feeling about professional selling. It’s not about product dumping. It’s about understanding your client and that’s why the questions are so very important, isn’t it?
Dianna: Well it is, and Dylis I think you’re pointing to something really critical. As salespeople the hardest thing that we have to do is to really understand what our buyer’s life looks like. If you can just take a moment and get into somebody’s shoes about what it would be like to walk into a busy booth and be sort of attacked with a product. You would know immediately that, that isn’t what you should be doing. If you just thought about how you would want to be treated, or what you want to discover. I think you’re right, I think that product dumping is not what your client wants.
Dylis: We’ve covered the person who is passing and you’re going to invite them in. How about when you have got people who have stopped. So, they are interested because they’ve at the booth. I understand it’s the same sort of question, but could you give us an example?
Dianna: Well, it’s a little bit different so… I think that’s an excellent question. The first thing is when you’re at your booth, I think you’ve seen this at trade shows. It’s very common to watch everybody like this. Everybody’s like this. Do not be like that, be open, and be welcoming. You know these are your guest and you know once they’re in your home, they’ve really giving you permission to have a conversation with them. It’s kind of like when you’re cold calling somebody and you ask that critical question, may I interrupt you? May I have a moment of your time? They have stepped into your home and so they have invited a conversation and now it’s just to really understand “what’s interesting to you here? What brought you here,” and listen
Dylis: Yes, and listened to understand not just to hear. So many people pretend they’re listening, in fact, I don’t think some people even pretend they’re listening they just don’t listen. But really listening to understand and being engaged, being fully engaged with the person is so critical.
Dianna: Well, it’s right and there is actually there is a very beautiful dance that you can do at a trade show because with any luck your booth is swarmed with people. The right people, but it’s a show, anybody can come into your booth. Anybody can be curious, it could be a competitor, and it could be somebody who is taking the tires. It could just be somebody who thought that game that you got going on in your booth is really interesting.
As a very accomplished networker, these are important skills to learn. It is appropriate to have a conversation with more than person at a time. You know, include a group. It is appropriate to have people set up so that if there’s a V.I.P then you can gracefully turn to another conversation. To learn those skills is important and to learn the skills of how for one person out of the booth to come and indicate that it’s time for you to come have a conversation over here.
Like all of those social graces of hosting an excellent party or managing a busy schedule with different with competing priorities is something that I think none of us ever really mastered. It is something that is all appropriate at a show and you should learn how to do those things. That’s one thing that we teach our clients how to do in the booth.
Then you’re right, absolutely listen to understand because Dylis what you’re pointing to is anytime somebody says something or anytime somebody asks a question, there’s a commitment behind that question. You know, I don’t ask you if my child…if I’m dropping my child off at day-care, I don’t ask you what time lunch is because I need to know that it’s going to be 12 o’clock instead of 12:30. I’m interested in what my child’s experience is going to be like throughout the day and that they are going to get fed at a time that’s going to be satisfactory to them. So, there is a commitment behind somebody’s question. When you listen to understand then you start to dig into what that commitment is and then you can really start to see very quickly if there’s an opportunity for you to do business together.
Dylis: Yes, indeed. That leads me on to another question, where you have the people who come to the booth who they want to dominate. So, they want to take all of your time, how do you gracefully and professionally move that person on without offence?
Dianna: ‘The Vampire.’ Well, with any luck you do have a product or service or you’re an industry that people are very passionate about and really want to talk and dig into the details. This is where I think it really is okay for you to remember that you’re in business to do business. Those people deserve your attention and they deserve your time. It could be that you have…maybe you’re a salesperson and you have somebody with you who’s very technical. An excellent way to take care of that person who wants to have that deep conversation about everything that’s never going to lead to a sale, is to politely say you know there’s somebody in our booth who has so much more expertise about this and would love to speak with you about that. If you’re a product person, your technical person is available, what an excellent use of their time.
Now another person comes in, they are a buyer and they do need technical facts. Now you go to your product person who’s now all caught up with ‘the vampire,’ God love them. You say, ‘Oh, this is so perfect that you’re having this in-depth conversation about the technical aspect of our company. Could I please include so and so in this conversation? Because this is something that they’re trying to implement in their own company. Always giving people the grace of that they’re there and they are important. Your goals are important also. Use the asset, use the people in your booth as a resource.
Dylis: Yes, excellent. That’s really good advice because I know a lot of people get hung up with that. I know this is a different activity, but networking is very similar in that you can get caught up with someone but often you don’t have the opportunity to sort of feed them off to someone else. Although you could make an introduction to someone.
That is really great advice in terms of being at the expo or the trade show and just being able to move the person over gracefully with kindness. It’s not about just being rude to people and getting rid of them quickly. You know you have to treat everyone with respect, so that’s brilliant. Let’s have a look now at generate. Now we’ve welcomed people into the booth or people have come into the booth and we’ve had our conversation. As we’re in business to do business, we’ve sorted out the wheat from the chaff in a very graceful and respectful way. Now we’ve got some business cards so we’ve got some people who are saying, “Yes I would like to find out more” What is your advice in terms of that aspect of the whole process?
Dianna: Well, here’s where the machine really kicks into high gear Dylis. If you’ve done create well then you know the plan. When you get home, everybody knows their job. This is actually what’s really brilliant about bringing the right team to the show is that everybody at home is invested. They know their part, it’s not just the marketing team, and it’s not just the sales team. There is your operations team, there’s your tech team there’s everybody who gets into high gear.
You’ve done all the planning ahead of time, you share your goals with the entire company so when you get home it’s like you’ve come home from the hunt. Right? Everybody’s ready to skin the deer and it’s a very bad analogy. My point is that trade shows are a group effort. They are about the whole company and the whole company should be asking you how to go. Now you get home and every lead is not created equal. Every business card is not the same value to you.
So, you have to have a system ready and if you’re a smaller organisation, you can do it. If you’re a complex organisation you can have all the technology to do it. Do not get overwhelmed by what I’m about to say to you but when you have a simple system and you know how it’s going to go when you get home you know who the high-quality leads are going to go to. They’ve been qualified as you prepared to do, they go to the right salespeople. They go into a funnel, some of them go to a marketing nurturing funnel. Some of them get an email right away. If you’re doing your business really smart, you’ve got some tools that you’ve already got set in motion while you’re at the show. Where you are emailing people right away.
One thing I really like to do is bring my hand-written thank you notes. I have… I always send a hand-written thank you note. I’m sorry it may sound old fashioned, but I get so much attention from it. I bring them, I write them on the plane, I have stamps in envelopes and I’m just ready to go with that.
If you’re ready to go on your leads, then you’re going to be able to convert more of those into deals. Now, I do think that there is a misconception about leads going cold. I hear this a lot, you know I got home from the show had this great conversation. Well, you got home from the show and what did your life look like? It’s the same thing for your customer they have to dig out also. They’re probably going to miss your first email.
There used to be the rule of seven, where it takes seven touches for you to engage your buyer. In some industries like fast technology, it’s closer to 13 or 15 today. The reality is, you’re giving up too soon. You’re just giving up too soon and you’re worried about being about a bother. The reality is Dylis and I always say this, is your prospects are counting on you to find them.
Dylis: I talk about it being your duty. It’s your duty to give your prospective customers the opportunity to say yes or no, not right now. It is not your… It shouldn’t be your decision to say I’m giving up too soon.
Dianna: It’s not and I just… It’s so like-minded about that
Dylis: I get on my soap box about this because so many people give up too soon. If you give up too soon, you’re leaving your prospective client in the situation with the problems that they had without your product or service that, that product or service could solve, make their lives much better, and make their businesses much better.
Dianna: You are preaching to the choir. That is exactly right. You know if you really believe that your product or service makes a difference for your clients and their business then it’s your job to get their attention. It’s your job to get their attention.
Dylis: You have to do… Pick up the phone, leave a voicemail and get back to them. Keep going until they say no, yes or no, not right now. Even if it’s no, not right now, then you can fix your next step as ‘alright, can I contact you again in a month, three months, six months, whatever is appropriate for your industry?’ We are certainly singing from the hymn sheet.
Dianna: Well, Dylis I don’t know about you, but I have never known anyone who died when someone told them no on the phone.
Dylis: Exactly and neither have I ever met anyone who said no to a salesperson that has thought about it every day following. They have not given it another thought.
Dianna: It’s over. Five minutes later it’s over.
Dianna: We’ll obsess about it. You know we’ll get five yes’ and schedule meetings all day long but man that no, we’re going to think about it. We’re going to talk about it, reminisce about it. Just let go, they let it go too.
Dylis: Exactly, exactly right. I love that; it’s prioritise your leads because they’re not all of the same value. Then make sure that you’re getting in touch, that there isn’t any such thing as leads going cold.
Dianna: No and you know there are some really savvy ways to use technology, free technology. I’ve been working a lot with clients that are using video prospecting when they get home. They’ll have the video all ready to go and when somebody expresses some interest, they’ll shoot them off, the email with the video right away. Then they can gauge whose open the video and watched it and how much of the video they’ve watched. Those leads go to the top. Right?
Dylis: Those are Bomb Bomb… Is that Bomb Bomb that you’re referring to?
Dianna: I haven’t heard of that tool. The one that I’m referring to Go Video by Vidyard. There are a number of really sophisticated, free video tools. You already know this because you’re on YouTube to edit with your podcast and I have a show called ‘The Sell-out Show’ that is also on YouTube. Video is where you have to be and if you’re uncomfortable with it, get comfortable with it because your competition is going to.
Dylis: Yes, this is the thing, you have to just get comfortable with it. Brilliant. Dianna, I could talk to you all day and I’m sure some of our audience would like to know more and to find out more about you so how can they get in touch with you?
Dianna: Terrific, so we are at www.tradeshowmakeover.com. Who we serve Dylis are people who are attending shows that want to bring home more deals from their leads that they can pick up just by walking the floor. We serve exhibitors and we also serve the trade show organisers. Many of the organisers that we work with tell us that before we started working with them their retention rates of their exhibitors are 50% or less. Which means every single show, they need to start from scratch to fill up that exhibit or hall. If you can increase retention and we can kind of do that on a mass scale with them that’s been really, really powerful for their show. So that’s who we serve.
Dylis: Fantastic. Do you have any free resources at all Dianna?
Dianna: Well, it’s funny you should ask. We just last month did a three-day summit that has 30 sessions from sales experts, exhibiting experts, marketing experts, CEOs, stuff that you …not the usual suspects either. I mean the people that really do this stuff every day and turn leads into deals. All of those sessions, if you join us on our exclusive Facebook group, which you can find by searching ‘Trade Show Makeover.’ Come knock on the door and we’ll let you in until the end of …Well, for you the end of February. Just say Dylis sent me and we’ll do it for the end of Febryary. So all 30 of those sessions are free to you to watch.
Dylis: Wow, that is incredible. As soon as we finish this call and looking for Trade Show Makeover on Facebook. Dianna thank you once again. It’s been absolutely fabulous talking to you. I love the depth of knowledge that you have from your own experience. So, this isn’t textbook, this is years of experience in the sales arena, in the B2B sales arena. It certainly shows through. So, thank you once again.
Dianna: Well, I just love being on a show called Inspired Selling. I think selling can be very inspiring. I’m really happy to have joined you Dylis, thank you for having me.
Dylis: It’s a pleasure. Thank you so much. Bye for now.
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