Trade Show Action Plan For MSP
Do the trade shows still serve the same purpose for your sales department as they did 10 years ago? Certainly, in IT and Telecom, there have been a lot of changes in how the biggest industry trade shows perform, what audience they target and even their formats and names. Some of these shows evolved into purely vendor-to-vendor shows, while others focus on education and hands-on training. For most, the cost of attending has skyrocketed due to high fees for the full-access passes and the travel and accommodation expenses associated with “destination events.” This has made it more difficult for MSPs to send multiple attendees from sales and supporting departments.
Does that mean that you should cross the trade shows off your list? It is still possible to get a decent ROI out of them if you plan ahead and execute on important actions during the show before (or even instead of) leisurely socializing over drinks and prepaid luncheons.
Plan Your Visit Step-by-Step.
- Pick the right event. There are many shows that have niches, such as cyber security, carrier services, UCAAS, etc. Create a list of the shows you want to visit next year.
- Pick the products you would consider adding to your portfolio to enhance your business, such as SD WAN, UCAAS, Cyber Security, etc. Create a list of the vendors who present those products at the show and write the booth numbers down, so you can easily find them.
- Reach out to vendors you want to visit at least a month before the show and book a meeting at their booth. Those shows get busy very quickly, and it’s usually almost impossible to get the right person to talk to without an appointment.
- The first day of the show is usually a good day to check the show floor booth by booth, because all the exhibitors are already there but it’s still relatively quiet. Usually, the activities that attract the busy crowd start on the second day of the show. Make the most of the quiet time.
- When meeting with the vendors, it’s good to have an agenda to use your and their time most effectively. Have the list of questions you want to ask each vendor about the direct effect their products and services will have on your business. This may include trainings, commissions, ramp-up timing, marketing, etc.
- The majority of the exhibitors are using old-school, printed marketing materials at the shows, so be prepared to collect a lot of paper documentation. I recommend having the files or envelopes for each vendor you’re meeting with, so after the show you have everything already pre-sorted. There’s nothing worse than scrapping the crumpled paper out of your suitcase with an almost 100% guarantee that something will get lost or damaged.
- Allow some extra time in case you want to visit the same vendors the next day to ask some additional questions while the details of your initial conversation are still fresh.
- Determine your follow up actions right away and make sure to execute on them as planned after you get back from the show.
Once the important stuff is done, enjoy the rest of the show by visiting all the other booths and opportunities. Take the time to do networking or attending any available workshops. Contact your current vendors to see if they are on display, since this is a good time to build on existing relationships. These shows have been put together by organizations that truly want to keep you informed, update you on everything new in your industry, and make you successful.