Tips For Selling Exhibit Space and Sponsorships in the Virtual World

Selling exhibit space to a live event is hard enough, but what about in the virtual world? As virtual gains steam, more and more exhibitors and attendees have become comfortable with the platform, but that doesn’t mean that the sales approach you use for live events will directly translate to virtual. Thinking of going virtual? Some key tips:

Pick the model that works best for your show. Think about all the different ways you sell your live events and determine how — and if — you can create those opportunities in the virtual world. A company that would sponsor a content track at a live event, for example, might be interested in sponsoring the virtual keynote. “That content would still be driven by the host, but the sponsor could say thank you and get a logo,” says Robin Klombers, Vice President for InXpo. “And that sponsor could get the leads for the people who attended that presentation.” Further, instead of selling a one-size-fits-all booth opportunity, think about creating different levels of exhibit space to fit each exhibitor’s needs.

Have an internal sales champion. Jeff Miller, Director of E-strategy Sales and Marketing for Watt Publishing, says that one key to selling virtual space is making sure the content side of the program is sellable (and will attract the attendees that exhibitors want to make connections with). To do this, make sure there’s a high-level liaison between the content and sales teams to make sure all objectives and deliverables are being met on both sides.

Embrace the demo. There’s only so much that a brochure or a quick two-minute video can convey about the virtual environment. “The only way we’ve sold sponsorships is to actually have a GoToMeeting conference call and show a potential sponsor an archived version of an actual event,” Miller says. And just like live sales, consider attaching a quota. Watt demands that each salesperson schedule a number of demos.

Think post-show. Long-time exhibitors know how to categorize and handle the leads generated from a live event. But the intensive information output generated from a virtual event may be overwhelming. Show them in advance of the sell what kind of information they’ll be getting and how you can help them segment it post-show,” Miller advises.