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Tips for Actually Using Tradeshow Information

21 Apr, 2004 By: Craig Stimmel, SPIA, Inc. imageSource

Tips for Actually Using Tradeshow Information

We all get them when we attend a tradeshow: those beautiful, canvas bags that
we stuffed full while canvassing the tradeshow floor and attending classes. We
walked around, visited the booths and collected information thinking, “I can’t
wait to look into these solutions” or “the vendors that I met at that last booth
are really going to help me improve my bottom line,” or even, “that training is
really going to make it easier to sell.”

I bet you filled your bag up with all sorts of great things, including
brochures on all of the latest products, new vendors’ business cards that you’re
going to call and even those handouts that the trainers gave to you on ways to
make it easier for you to run/improve your business. You crammed your tradeshow
bag to the top because that’s what you always do and that’s what everyone else
does right? And, what did you do with your bag? In most cases, the scenario went
something like this:

• You paid for tickets and flew all the way to the show

• Paid for the show as well as a room

• Walked around and visited all of those great exhibitors

• If you exhibited, you paid to do so and you put out the “fish bowl” for leads

• Went out after the show with some friends to see the sights/have some

• Flew home with your precious bag in tow

• Got back to your office and put that bag under/beside your desk

• Reminded yourself last week that you should really get to it

• Been too busy to even think about opening the bag and sorting through all the

Now, I know that there are a few of you who actually took some of the
information and called the vendors and/or thought about implementing the
training ideas. But, for those of you who haven’t done anything yet, here’s a
“Street Smart” game plan for successfully managing tradeshow information before
it gets shoved under you desk.

Take Immediate Control

Don’t wait until you get back to the office to look at everything you’ve
collected. The night before you leave to go home, spread out all the collected
collaterals and product samples on the bed (or on the floor) and put them into
product categories including traditional products, new/innovative products,
consumables, business ideas, sales training, sales leads, etc.

Read through and take time to consider what you’ve collected. Choose the
information that looks promising. Anything other than promising information,
leads, samples, and training material should be disposed of immediately.
Remember, paper weighs a lot and you have to carry it home. Why carry something
that has little value, if any? Keep the stacks separated with a rubberband
around each one and label it with a self-stick note.

Write pertinent information on the back of business cards that will remind
you of the contact and put all business cards into an envelope marked for follow
up calls. Any business card that you recognize as being of no interest should be
thrown away now rather than being taken back to the office to be thrown away
there. Pack everything carefully because you really ARE going to look over the
material when you return to the office.

Back at the Office: Share the Wealth

When you return to your office, recognize that there will be time sensitive
issues that you will be required to deal with as soon as you get back including
responding to voicemails and e-mails, dealing with pressing internal issues, and
responding to customers who want/need you to get back to them.

Just remember that this is important too, so make time. Block out an early
morning time before normal business hours to go back through the materials
you’ve already qualified and determine which products/ideas/concepts are worthy
of further time or effort. This shouldn’t take more than one hour. If you’ve
started early enough, you can begin to plan and determine what needs to be done
to properly “evaluate” the information. Delegate a person who will do the
evaluation and report back to you with the results. Agree on a time frame for
the work to be done and schedule a meeting to discuss the evaluation.

The designated individuals who have been assigned the responsibility of
evaluating the collaterals/product samples/training information you’ve brought
back need to report back to you on your scheduled date. Prepare a detailed
agenda for the meeting, calling on each individual separately. Allow yourself a
minimum of 30 minutes for each presentation and take good notes. Be prepared to
make a decision. Don’t put off the process.

Upon completion of the meeting, return to your office, close the door and
re-review the information presented. Make a decision based on what you have
heard and based on your many years of experience and knowledge of the
marketplace. Trust your instincts. An action plan should come from this step
which will involve assigning responsibility for doing what’s necessary to take
advantage of the knowledge, product selling opportunity, or new selling
approach. Give your people the opportunity to succeed and don’t be overly
critical, but hold them accountable for doing the job.

The Result

If you’re like me, you save magazines and trade publications for reading
material on the way home from a show. When you look at this issue (from 20,000
feet), will you be one of the successful dealers who has already done something
with their bags, or is your bag sitting in your briefcase or suitcase waiting
for you to get to it?

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