Gypsy Connections…wait…Who?

Thank you for the Contact Info!

One of the most neglected gypsy value-adds in organizations are the tradeshowgypsy connections. More often than not, the gypsy that is managing the shows and working the sideline sales gig can have the most comprehensive network. They generally travel to all parts of the globe, interact in all market segments and work with all product lines that the company represents. POOF! A valuable network!

Gathering business cards or leads that no one else in the booth wants; you know when those pesky sales/marketing folks come around that are not buying; take their cards! They can have another huge network and can help you out if you are looking for a contact, even if it is in marketing and you can do the research with an internal contact instead of trial and error with email configurations. I can say pesky, as I am of that clan, the sales/marketing one!

Another reason to get all of those non-sales leads; because things do not stay the same forever people move around and get promoted and change positions, companies, and logo shirts! Should you need access to someone from that organization, there is a possibility that you can dial up/text/social-media your ole friend, ole buddy, ole pal; and they may be able to help you, as marketing/sales folks are generally are communicators! Now don’t get me wrong, there are limits as far as competitors etc., but in general the resources the gypsy has access to are excellent.

Do not neglect the vendors/suppliers/organizers for your show, they are like having a personal “Angie’s List” of resources to help you do your job globally. Great service from a vendor, you do not find everywhere and if you get your hands on a good contact, make sure you stay in touch! This resource can not only be a life-saver in times of crisis but a cost savings if you give out recommendations. I have saved money by sending a recommendation and she gave me 10% off my next big shipment because of the referral!

Gypsies, make sure you are either included in the organizational database or that you can set up a contact list for yourself. Having the contacts that you meet out on the road can make your work easier and better with lists of customers, analysts, press, competitors, and a host of other service providers; it is like having a clan lineage!  You have access to contacts that can provide co-marketing efforts; information on shows that they may have attended for
market research and show evaluation, sales contacts for your company, speakers for special events, and general contacts for your personal network.

Establishing this contact list through the social media venues is also a great backup for your database so that you can follow your contacts and not lose touch with them if they change companies.  Assuring you are in continual communication is important to keep your network current and active and social media makes it easy to stay in-touch.  However, take the time to do a spreadsheet or add them into a database, as the winds change and you take your wagon elsewhere or get a new one the next gypsy will have the list as well.

Speaking of Great Contacts!   Tradeshowgypsy Twitter followers are rocking! But am going to have to get them to subscribe too, I want the network list! 🙂

Sales Gypsy…wait…Who?

For you my gypsy friends…a very good price! Wink…Clink..clink…clink!

What exactly are you selling?

Well this is how it goes; you get to do trade shows, events, conferences that have a sales pitch side as well as a marketing campaign. Sometimes gypsies are doing double-duty on the sales side and managing the event; participating in the well-known dance craze called multi-tasking mania!

Sales is a tough gig no doubt but having the opportunity to do face-to-face sales with so many customers in one place in a short amount of time can put a sales account/territory/product-line manager on GO! If they are good!

You have done your homework and know your customers in the local area; who else will be exhibiting on the show floor; speakers that might be that high-level C/VP you have been trying to reach or techy that has been locked away; and you have done due diligence for possible attendees that might be new prospects. Check your social media sites for attendees; this is the new method of finding out where prospects are headed! Send out your own announcements via a variety of communication mediums to make sure you will get to see the clients you want to see. Use that fancy new mobile device! Everything you can do to get the word out! Beat the drum loud and shake that tambourine we are going in for the sale!

Competition you say…bahh…you are there to beat the competition with your exceptional products, service, and outstanding salespersonship…*yeah not a word at all! It is always good to know who exactly your competition is, and it is better to run into them there on the show floor, than in the corporate office of your customer as the food chain is established! OOOUCH!

If sales are being conducted at the show the deadliest words can be, live-demo! A live demo means you will hopefully have “technical” staff that does the setup and keeps the thing working. If not, and you are in sales, I can tell you I have walked the show floor many a time with clients keeping them away from the booth until we could get something fixed or if that wasn’t an option, to get it put away. Having such a temporary setup with a variety of issues in service, shipping, packing (who forgot the cables!) and power/internet availability; can really make a sales agent look bad, because the customer only sees, “it isn’t working and they can’t fix it!”

So getting to the show early to make sure everything is operational before you land your customers in the booth to see “spectacular spectacular” is a must. Make sure to take the exact sales materials you want to have on hand to make your sale. Often there is only so much you can ship to a show and if you are not in communication with marketing or corporate that actually packs and sends the booth and materials, only certain things are included and you are out of luck. Take a few printed pieces or a flash drive with whatever you want to use to help YOU sell. Leaving it to the, I can email you later message comes across a bit ill-prepared.

Granted, I know, boy do I know, people pick pieces of paper up and leave them they don’t want to carry them around the floor or back to the office. However, if you only take a few and give them the option to email  a copy so they do not have to carry it, you are golden! You now have an email address, and have helped a potential or existing customer. All the while, establishing that brand and product/service visual material. People will remember an image and branding more so than just lip service!

Having meetings or appointments at the booth set up prior to the show can really make a difference on the ROI for you personally and for the organization as a whole. Cold-selling on the show floor – don’t be shy, get out into that aisle and say hello! What company do you work with?What do you do for your company? Have you seen our latest product? Nice hair, or head…or something…get out from behind the counter with marketing materials and get folks interested, the more people in the booth the better as this creates a “what’s in there BUZZ?” curiosity for attendees.

Go prepared and be able to explain exactly what it is you are selling. Know your new products, and what your differentiator is to that bahhh competitor down the aisle. No bad mouthing only positive dialog, things like we have real people or look a product and a service comparative. Do a little self-promotion and engage your customer with a giveaway, spring for a whatever, and add it to your business card and tell them if they email you they are entered to win, and if you get business because of them they win an extra whatever, whatever… and follow-up! This can be invaluable to your show manager to be able to tie a show lead directly to a sale and you have at least one LEAD! Yeah!

Definitely not easy, but if you are the Sales Gypsy supporting the clan, you want the best wagon so you gotta put on a great show to get those gold coins!

FYI – there is no SHY in SALES!

The 9/11 Shipper Alert…wait Who?

9/11 call

On 9/11 so many of us were on the road…this will live with all of us as long as we live…I was at a show in Seattle, WA, where were you?

In fact, it was the Fed-X delivery guy who alerted me that something bad going on as I was just getting up. I was awaiting my shipment that was supposed to have been there the day before, and it was scheduled for “first early delivery” the next day.  That was truly a surreal day and experience, but I will never forget that it was the “shipper” that called me so I could turn on my television and give him the information until he could get to the hotel that I had the delivery sent to, it was horrific, no other word.

When my colleagues surfaced we all spent the day at the hotel, and that afternoon one of the sales guys took myself and another staff member for a drive, ironically we ended up at Deception Falls, but it did pass the day and keep us all from going stir crazy. The next day we all spent the day on the show floor pacing the floors with large screens projecting the news, as we were literally a captive audience with no way to get back home, we took good care of each other and rallied to figure out ways for all of us to get home. Ultimately, the genuine caring humanity came out of everyone, and the safety of all was at the forefront of the circumstances.

Our hotel was older and we had to climb many flights of stairs. In my room I went to bed and about 8:00 pm I was trying to relax when a helicopter sound could be heard outside the hotel (I was on the 16th floor), a knock at the door scared the wits out of me, as I opened carefully to discover an elderly lady that was so frightened she was having a panic attack as there was certainly not supposed to be anything in the air at that point. Her daughter was out to dinner and she was alone and frightened; I was able to calm her and lay her on the bed with cold towels. I reached the front desk and determined the helicopter was official and doing a patrol of the area and everything was fine both of us were able to breathe again and kept each other company until her daughter arrived about midnight and took her back to her room. Sleep was not even an option at that point.

The next morning I went to take a shower and the fire alarm went off in my room with the steam from the shower. Needless to say, on edge was an understatement. Luckily I was able to turn the alarm off after opening all the windows. No one came or called as I was rushing to get dressed while soaking wet, and fanning with a towel.  At this point, it was definitely time to make it back to my family, I was not in the most confident of mindsets!

With a plan of action for all of us to leave that day, some drove their rental cars home with booth contents, still the responsible show manager; eee gads insanity! A couple of us had an inside track for the flights we could take to get home; albeit the round-about way. Flying was frightening that day, the Denver airport was completely empty. The board listing the flights had several flights listed, but all were CANCELLED with the exception of the flight we were on, which said, ON TIME!  The flight loaded as planned and then quickly unloaded with no reason, and then we were all loaded back on, and it was silent the entire way! Completely, nerve-wracking!  When it was all said and done it took us a couple of days and a long drive to get back, but very minimal in comparison to the dire situation and we all made it back home safe and sound, to grieve for our nation with our families.

Work travel does have risks just like staying at home does. Often when internal staff or family has not traveled for a living they feel slighted as though the traveler is on holiday. There are fun times on the road as there are at home, but the risk is always there and every time you travel you have that little voice that says, “let me come back in one piece”.

Why this, and why today…not sure other than the fact that I was thinking about shippers and the general information and ideas on shipping; but wanted to acknowledge the fact that it was a shipper that I connected with on that awful day and travel for all of us changed that day and continues to evolve!

So the gypsy sends a lucky/safe travels wish for all of you travelers that continue to do exceptional work; and to the home bodies that keep the home fires burning and safe!

Innovative or Invisible….wait who?

What do you see?

Who goes to shows? Well crazy gypsies like me of course!

Generally speaking the folks are delegated by sitting in the wrong chair at the wrong time, or the right chair at the right time.  Sometimes it is a toss-up!

When staff is delegated to go to shows they should have at least more than 10 minutes’ notice. There should be a plan of action not a written action plan that no one reads! A plan of action that is discussed prior to the show defining who needs to be where when and then show up! Whether is sales staff doing booth-duty; marketing managing the press/analysts; or business development targeting new business; or last but not least your technical staff that are either on hand for those questions that only they can answer; or certainly your speaking VIP! Have plan of physical action to get from point-A to point-B without any incidents or lost staff or the ultimate in no-no’s an un-staffed booth.

In the booth, should there be too many attendants, this is often a deterrent for those shy attendees that feel intimidated by a herd of
trade show shirts stampeding the booth to get to that lone individual. Make sure there is an adequate number of staff on hand that have the “right stuff” – open personality, professional (I stress this one), and knowledgeable on the products. If you have a lead in person, which was me quite often, make sure they are approachable and can hang on to a customer if technical staff is busy with other attendees and that they know enough about the products to keep the attendee enthusiastic about learning more.

There is, NO SHY IN BOOTH DUTY!! Countless times than I care
to remember, staff was sent that would try to hide behind me. Ok, let’s just say I am average petite. Get the right people in the booth, if they are
uncomfortable talking with people without being prompted or shoved, then the wrong person is at the show.

If you know that more could have been done, bring up the
fact in a staff call that ROI can only be accounted for by the quality of the staff that worked the show.  Get some accountability with the leads, either electronically or written. This accountability can help determine who should be at the shows and who should be back in their office or only work in individual sales.  Establish a rapport with the Sales VP and let them know you will be submitting a report on how the show went; and then be honest in your report with your accountability stats. This helps everyone, including the individual as they generally hate shows.

Some sales staff loved shows and excelled, and others did
everything possible to get out of the booth or hide.  In some cases the staff would tag team and work well together to have a successful show, in others they were strangers and saw each other as internal competition.

Just know as individuals with those sixth-sense things,
attendees can feel when there is tension in your booth and they will not
approach or leave with the feeling that they were sorry they stopped by. If people are up and not complaining about their internal issues, that group has a good show no matter what.

I did a large show in Washington, DC where a company had
their booth destroyed in shipping with no time to get anything else. The sales staff rallied and put a big poster board with an X and a circle on their damaged box; crime scene tape around their booth with only a doorway opening (who knows what ingenious individual acquired the tape); with another poster board propped up against the crate with a note that said, “Booth Casualty, come in and sign up as a witness to this crime”! They wore black t-shirts and had sunglasses and gave away Kleenex packets with every brochure!  They killed every 20 X 20 fancy booth on the show floor and had no electrical, no booth, no carpet and were raking in the leads.  Did they have the right staff, ABSOLUTELY!

So get those people to the show that can rally in a crisis and get those individuals that will engage with attendees. This whole processes
improves ROI and is an accountable action that can add value to anyone’s performance appraisal, and maybe even be a way to help justify the future of show participation.

In a nutshell – send your performing gypsies to the party,
not the mystics behind the curtain!

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