Logistics/Supply ChainsNews

Viewpoint: Tips for selling at in-person events — when they reappear

Social media vital before, during and after event

We’re going to assume the in-person conferences and networking events we used to know will, in the near future, be possible again. In fact, we should all be encouraged by the news announced by FreightWaves last week about F3: The Future of Freight Festival, being held IN PERSON in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nov. 8-10.

Despite the limitations of video and live streams, the virtual events of 2020 have been fair substitutes for in-person events, and many of those available have been worth attending. But there is value in in-person connection and conversation that isn’t easily replaced. If nothing else, these past 12 months have brought us all a new appreciation for in-person interaction. It might take some time, but events will make a comeback to your calendar. When they do and when you’re there to find new leads and sell, try using these techniques for better conversions.

Tips for selling at events

Take advantage of the reach of social media before, during, and after the event. Start by posting the fact that you’re attending. Research who else plans to attend as well as those who might be interested in connecting with you, and send individual messages inviting them to find you at the event. This planning and preparation will go a long way so as not to leave to chance the number and interest level of people speaking with you. Work with your marketing team if you have one to offer incentives to those visiting you during the event, and inform your social media following in advance. If you can’t afford a booth, no problem! You can still offer a chance to win a prize in exchange for contact info from everyone you meet while you’re at the show. I’ve won some cool stuff at conventions and I’ve given away a lot of cool prizes as well. An Echo Show or gift card as a “virtual raffle” is cost-effective bait as long as you’re able to get some leads out of it. 

Plan materials and content for the day of. Printed material must include your contact information or a clear call to action. Use sales material such as one-sheets or a well-made infographic. These have the value of a tangible reminder, something the person you spoke with is going to see again. Try to incorporate any interactive content, such as setting up a tablet with your SaaS demo or running a video loop on monitors in your booth.

Have your elevator pitch prepared and practiced. The goal is to make it easy to digest and natural-sounding, as though you’re talking conversationally with someone, not “at” someone. Don’t pack it with buzzwords, and be sure you don’t give the impression you’ve memorized a script. Consider opening with a simple question to get the conversation started, but avoid putting anyone on the spot.

Ask questions and listen. Try to solve problems sincerely, based on what you’re hearing and not what you want to hear.

Don’t say anything negative about competitors. (Say “no comment” if you have to.) People subconsciously associate those negative qualities you said about your competitor with your company instead.

Remember in your pitch that your customer — not you, the company or your solution — is the hero. This means relating everything back to your customer in a positive way. You’re not only informing them, you’re causing them to feel something, either inclining them toward your solution or away from it. This is why you want to sound sincere; you’re building trust and confidence through what you’re saying and through your tone.

Lastly, have mapped out the ideal next step for those you meet. Get their contact information, and give them your material. You may want to take the opportunity to write a personalized note on their material before handing it to them, which will help them remember the positive experience they had. If you received a positive response during the conversation, communicate the follow-up they can expect from you.

Charley Dehoney

Charley Dehoney is a growth-focused executive, consultant, advisor and investor, with more than 15 years of experience at the intersection of transportation technology. He's helped create revenue systems that have supported hundreds of millions of dollars in growth for the businesses he's helped build. Dehoney is currently serving as CEO of Manning's Truck Brokerage, a 50-year-old, private equity-backed logistics company. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his beautiful wife and three strapping young sons.