SISO Executive Conference Day 2: Selling Strategies & Monetizing Digital Mediums
CHICAGO, IL—Tradeshow professionals attending the second day of the Society of Independent Show Organizers’ Executive Conference received a variety of tactics aimed at growing their businesses across the face-to-face and digital landscapes in 2012. Keynote speaker Dan Cole, an EXPO magazine columnist and senior vice president of sales and business development for International CES, started off the day that was focused on sales strategies by providing the audience with tactics for delivering results.
“Customer service is more important than ever,” said Cole. “You absolutely want a good attitude toward customers. You can’t just smile and dial anymore, you have to be a different sales person and have a different approach.”
In order to capture a different approach, Cole suggested following 11 foundational rules:
- 1. Sales success can be achieved with the right attitude, effort and accountability.
- 2. The sales approach must be “forever new.”
- 3. Individuals must be held accountable by being judged on metrics, like results from social media, media coverage, sales generation and total spend.
- 4. The onus must be on the seller and not the exhibitor.
- 5. Recognize that activity is not king, and that sometimes effort is simply not enough if results are not being produced.
- 6. Sales people are consultants that need to foster competition and provide industry expertise.
- 7. Hire the right individuals to sell—those with humble and go get em’ attitudes, and individuals that understand real world business problems and propose solutions, are essential to a team.
- 8. It is crucial to have consistent engagement by staying informed with key exhibitors and sponsors, and having a constant dialogue.
- 9. Recognize that sales never end—sellers cannot wait for prospects but must be active in capturing them.
- 10. Involve all stakeholders in the process—the marketing, operations and communications departments.
- 11. Educate employees to recognize that customer service is more important than ever—do not ever assume an exhibitor will just come back year after year.
“It’s not all about packed booths anymore, you must understand the customer’s problems,” Cole told the audience. “There are real world business issues, and our tradeshows can be part of the solution.”
Monetizing Digital Mediums
While Cole and several other panel speakers discussed the fundamental strategies of selling for face-to-face, Kai Hattendorf, vice president of digital business for Messe Frankfurt GmbH, discussed something new to the face-to-face market—online media monetization strategies.
“Digital creates the yearning for communication in the real world,” he told the audience. “Every time we work with the exhibitors to prepare them for the real show we can prepare them through the digital journey as well.”
Messe Frankfurt has a digital marketplace for exhibitors, ProductPilot.com—a space where the company can extend the business process for exhibitors throughout the year. According to Hattendorf, this kind of digital storefront provides a second venue for Messe Frankfurt by:
- • Offering exhibitors an international customer base
- • Covering a broader industry variety
- • Providing innovative semantic search options for exhibitors
- • Offering a variety of content
- • Allowing for profile based business matching
ProductPilot.com and MesseFrankfurt.com have both helped to grow the business, together generating 5.98 million unique visitors between January and December 2011. Hattendorf projects that Messe Frankfurt will generate about $10 million this year from its digital business.
“When you talk about digital offerings, it’s important to remember customer expectations,” says Hattendorf. “People want the Web to be useful for them based on the way they define it.”
By having this digital storefront for exhibitors, Hattendorf says Messe Frankfurt has been better able to match individuals, and the company generates 150,000 visitors a month to this, as he puts it, “hardcore b-to-b website.” While this aspect of Messe Frankfurt’s overall strategy is digital, he does see a place—and value—for exhibitions.
“Tradeshows are edited versions of the marketplace, and if we edit them well, they’re very successful,” he said. “In a generic way, every tradeshow is a matchmaking tool.”