If you think that you will write most of your orders during a Trade Show, think again!! Most of your orders will come AFTER the show is over and you are back in your office. Although some buyers know exactly what they want and will write an order with you on the spot, most will go home and mull over all the literature they picked up at the show — may call a few producers — but most likely, will leave the catalogs and sales flyers sitting in a pile in their office. Following Up After a Trade Show is critical to your success with shows!!
My experience with Trade Show was before technology was everywhere and before social media was available (gee, I feel like a dinosaur!!). But the systems were the same as they are today: If you want to make sales, you need a system to collect contact info and a plan to follow up with those contacts!
Personally, I collected business cards. Now days, they have electronic devices you can rent at the show for scanning buyers name tags for a complete contact information. Pretty slick!
Okay, you have collected names and contact information with this new technology or you have used my old fashion method. Now what?
The Arts Business Institute published an article with some great tips on follow up:
The Art of Following Up
What’s the best way to follow up? A simple phone call or email within a week of your meeting is usually best. These aren’t cold calls – they are warm calls, or even hot prospects. Since your prospect handed you their business card, they are giving you their contact information. That’s like an invitation to connect.
Choose a date on your calendar and write “Make Follow Up Calls” so that you are committing time for this all-important task. Then, dial the phone or write emails and take this opportunity to get to know your potential customer better. Do it promptly. Once too much time has passed, it will be more uncomfortable for you.
The article offers tips for staying in touch with the retail buyers:
If they haven’t opted in to your email newsletter, you can email them personally instead. Send postcards featuring your work on a regular basis. Send a line sheet with your new collection, an invitation to your open studio, or other announcements.
One way to stay in touch with prospects is to connect with them on social media. If they follow you, they will see your name and your work on a regular basis without your feeling intrusive. Make a comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Pinterest, and become part of their network. Then, when you approach them again about your line, you will be familiar and more readily received.
Of course, when I exhibited at wholesale trade shows, none of these options were available. I do have an email list on my wholesale website to stay in touch by email, but most of my time was spent on the phone with these folks.
Remember, it sometimes takes numerous contacts to make a sale (article lists 5 – 12 contacts), so don’t give up too soon!