Why does business travel continue to prosper in the age of broadband communication? Why are business travellers flying thousands of miles every year, wasting hours of productivity in busy airports and on busy roads when all the tools are now there for 24/7 high definition video calling. Have you tried Cisco Telepresence? It’s mind blowing. Even FaceTime, it works.
And yet it’s not the same. It’s not as good. Billion dollar deals may well be negotiated on-line, but the final handshakes are always done in person.
Face to face contact is invaluable and whether you are just starting out or are a well-established brand, your sales strategy should factor in networking events. They provide an excellent opportunity to meet new contacts, to represent your brand in person and to gain a better understanding of your target audience and competitive landscape.
Time is your most valuable commodity so you need to be wise in which networking events you attend. Consider:
- Will your target demographic be there either in terms of potential influencers or prospects?
- How many people will be there in total; is it an intimate gathering or larger scale event?
- Will this be the same crowd you regularly see at other events?
- What type of event is it? Will you get a chance to ‘network’ or will you be listening to speakers?
- How many professionals/companies from your sector will also attend?
- Are you able to see the guest list in advance to identify key prospects?
- Is the event host (or whoever invited you) able/willing to introduce you to key people?
- Is there an opportunity (if appropriate or if you are a sponsor) to add your branding at the event – logo, gift etc?
Leaving prospects wanting more is key in sales. Don’t deliver your full sales pitch in this environment; you don’t want your prospect to grow bored or feel trapped. Introduce yourself, keep it brief, stay alert for buying signals and when they’re ready to move on… let them.
Take your business cards, ensure your phone is fully charged so you are ready to connect with new contacts immediately and take a pen – writing notes on the back of a new contacts’ business card can be an excellent memory jogger should you meet lots of new contacts (which can happen at all day events such as trade shows).
And follow up… It is important to make contact with your new prospects promptly, preferably the next working day, in the morning.
Written by Samantha Wright