During every conference, while you’re “working the booth,” several conference attendees will walk up to you and ask, “So, what do you guys do?” It never fails.
When that happens, how do you respond? More precisely, how do you respond in a way that intrigues the attendee and compels them to continue the conversation with you? Do that, and you’ve gotten the buyer-seller relationship off to a very good start.
Part 1 – The Introduction
The start of this conversation is not unlike any other networking opportunity that requires you to have an ‘elevator pitch.’ Here’s an example…
1. Re-introduce yourself and your company.
“Hi Mary (from her name badge), I’m John Jones, head of Client Services for ABC Research. We’re a full-service research shop based in Chicago.”
2. State who you work with… and the challenges they face.
“We work with Fortune 500 CPG companies (that is where most people will stop) that are having a difficult time bringing new products to market in a timely and cost-effective manner.” (By mentioning this, you are letting the attendee know that you know how to solve this problem… and it helps the attendee to see if his/her firm fits the profile.)
3. Tell them what’s unique about what you do. This is the part almost everyone skips. Here’s your chance to really differentiate your firm from all the others.
“Mary, what makes us unique (make sure to use those words) is that we do all of our research online – both quant and qual. Not only does that give us a nationwide reach, it allows us to complete every project faster and less expensively than with traditional research methodologies.”
What’s your elevator pitch? Write it in here…
If you’ve done your job well… the response you’ll hear is something like “That’s really interesting John… tell me more.”
But before you ‘tell them more,’ take a few minutes to ask some questions of them. Not only will their answers help you to better understand their needs and issues, but they will allow you to customize your booth conversation to fit their needs.
Use exploratory questions to get a sense of their organization, the kind of research they do (or want to do), what challenges/issues they face (they came to the conference for a reason – what are they looking for?) and most importantly, what business issues they have that they use research to help solve.
Write your key questions here…
Part 2 – The Details
OK, you’re up to bat… the attendee has indicated that he/she wants some additional information. You’ve asked a few questions and are now ready to make your pitch. Keep these 2 important rules in mind…
1. Be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need to present and answer questions… hand-outs, laptop presentation, software demo, etc. As importantly, be rehearsed. Do not go to a conference and wing it. Be sharp… be polished… be professional. Spend as much time as necessary making sure you know your key talking points and are comfortable with your PowerPoint presentation/software demo.
Anticipate and have answers for questions that will likely come up. Rehearse, literally, several times until you feel very comfortable with your presentation.
2. Remember to put yourself in the attendee’s shoes. As you’re presenting, don’t blather on about the great work you do, your great employees and the great customer service you provide (see a theme here?). Bottom line: People don’t care about what you can do… they care about what you can do for them. Learn to frame your conversation through their eyes. Remember, during your entire pitch, the attendee is asking him/herself, “What’s in this for me?”
To help answer that question, deliver your presentation through the lens of Feature – Benefit – Advantage.
- Features are what you do.
- Benefits are what the clients get.
- Advantages are how you’re different.
Here are a few examples to get you thinking about your firm…
Feature 1: “We are qualitative research specialists.”
Feature 1 – Benefit: “We are qualitative research specialists… we have hands-on experience with more than 10 different qualitative methodologies.”
Feature 1 – Benefit – Advantage: “We are qualitative research specialists… we have hands-on experience with more than 10 different qualitative methodologies. That means we can recommend and deliver the absolute best qual method for your project and not pigeon-hole you into a limited choice.”
Feature 2: “We have a large team of experienced analysts on staff.”
Feature 2 – Benefit: “We have a large team of experienced analysts on staff… which means we provide very fast turnaround.”
Feature 2 – Benefit – Advantage: “We have a large team of experienced analysts on staff… which means we provide very fast turnaround. So, even on high-priority, fast-track projects, we will meet or exceed your deadline every time… guaranteed.”
Feature 3: “We have 20 years of experience in the automotive industry.”
Feature 3 – Benefit: “We have 20 years of experience in the automotive industry… we genuinely walk the walk and talk the talk.”
Feature 3 – Benefit – Advantage: “We have 20 years of experience in the automotive industry… we genuinely walk the walk and talk the talk. And because of that, we can hit the ground running on your project – there’s no time wasted getting us up to speed.”
Now it’s your turn. Complete these for your firm…
NEXT STEP: To make sure you and the other booth workers are on the same page, print out this article and have each person complete it separately. Similar answers? Great! Not so similar? Then you’ve got a little training to do.
Bottom line: The exhibit hall at a conference is one of the few places in all of business where the prospective buyers come to you… literally. Make sure you’re prepared.
Good luck and good exhibiting.