Putting the Business in Show Business

Shows are something most dealers love or hate. Few of us are ambivalent in our feelings about shows. But one thing we have noticed is that many dealers do the same thing year after year, creating traditions that carry on but do not generate sales or profits. This article offers some tips for dealers to make shows more enjoyable and beneficial.

Plan Ahead

Successful dealers plan out the entire year in advance when it comes to shows. You can’t benefit from attending shows when they are scheduled too close together. If you come out of a show with more leads than you can handle and get right back into another, the leads may be wasted and very cold by the time you follow up on them.

Successful dealers try to spread shows evenly throughout the year. For example, they might plan one show per month, or every other month. This gives the show staff time to follow up and sell before they head back for more leads at the next show.

Participate in Smaller Shows

Big shows can be great but they could have some disadvantages. Many can be too expensive for small dealers who don’t make enough to justify attending. Also, large shows tend to be clumped together around spring time for home shows and fall for harvest shows and fairs. This means some dealers are in too many shows at certain times of the year and then they are “no-show” for a large portion of the year.

We suggest you participate in major shows when you have the resources and personnel to successfully “man” your booth. In addition, we suggest participating in smaller shows. These can be flea markets, small town shows, etc. There are events year round in almost all areas and some are hidden gems that can pay big returns on small investments.

Spread your shows throughout the year and you will be more successful.

Send Trained Troops

Shows seem like a great idea when you first book them; however, as the show date approaches, you may realize you don’t have sufficient sales staff to work the show. This can lead to working the show with friends, relatives, salt delivery staff, plumbers and others who don’t have adequate training.

In order for your sales staff to be successful at a show, they should have sufficient training. For example, they can memorize a script to help them set up appointments. Staff who “wing it” will never be as successful as those who master a script. Our DVD titled Making Your Fortune At Shows & Events offers a script that can help train your staff.

Limit Booth Signage & Equipment

We suggest that you display a sign that only contains your company name. Attendees rarely take the time to read wordy signs as they go by and they don’t care how long you have been in business. Only display show signs that feature the most concise and informative details about your business.

We also recommend you limit the amount of equipment displayed in your booth. Think of the potential customers you may be ignoring while spending more than 30 minutes demonstrating equipment to someone who doesn’t have the authority to purchase. Successful dealers agree that shows are a place to get names and set appointments, not to show or sell equipment.

Set & Achieve Goals

If getting appointments is the main goal of participating in shows, you need to set up a goal for each show staff member. We suggest three to six appointments per person, per hour. That means each person who works a six-hour period will be expected to set up at least 18 appointments.

Make sure you schedule dates for the appointments immediately after the show and stick to them. Two weeks later, the value of the leads will drop dramatically.

Analyze Each Show

After each show, calculate how much it costs for the booth, setup, teardown, staff and other expenses. Then calculate how many appointments you made and how many sales you got. This allows you to decide if the show is worth doing again.

Shows are so valuable that many dealers participate year round and some even have separate sales teams that just work shows. By following the tips discussed above, we know you will increase your profit from shows—and put more business in show business.

Carl Davidson and Ric Harry are directors of Sales and Management Solutions, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in sales & management video training, recruiting and live seminars exclusively for the water equipment industry. A free demonstration video and list of products and topics is available at 800.941.0068. Send comments on this article to them at reactions@carldavidson.com; www.carldavidson.com.

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