A good customer relationship management (CRM) platform for trade shows is more than just a contact database. It is a solution to some of the most vexing problems that sales and marketing teams face:
Pain point #1: Data in silos
The usual scenario for many event management companies involves one type of data being collected by marketing (broadcast email opens and clickthroughs, for example), another type by sales (calls made, website inquiries received, contracts secured) and a third by customer service (calls received, problems addressed). Each of the departments uses a different database or none at all. A CRM keeps data centralized so it can be leveraged across multiple departments.
Pain point #2: Too many touches
Exhibitors are extremely busy and sensitive to email overload—the result of multiple departments in the event organization sending messages independently. Plus, email is only one channel. Direct mail, telephone calls, online advertising and social media can also contribute to prospects tuning out. A CRM can help organizers develop a unified strategy that enables fewer, more purposeful touches to keep the lines of communication open.
Pain point #3: underperforming sales staff
A CRM helps sales managers in at least two important ways. It can help them track the specific performance of everyone on the team through up-to-the-minute progress reports so they can provide support when needed. But, it also gives the sales staff information about the client—demographics, history with the show, profile, contact history, etc.—that enables them to have intelligent, informed and collaborative conversations with current and potential customers.
Pain point #4: Inefficient sales process
Many organizers—even those with multiple shows—still use spreadsheets, sticky notes and file folders filled with printed emails as the foundation of their exhibit sales programs. The end result is a slow, opaque and decentralized process that requires many more humans to manage. A CRM can streamline tasks, make sales staff more productive and decrease error and overlap with fewer people.
Pain point #5: Minimal cross-selling, upselling capabilities
One of the downsides of having data in multiple locations (advertising sales in one place, exhibit space in another, sponsorships somewhere else) is that it becomes difficult to have a full picture of what a specific customer has purchased. When that level of visibility is available through a CRM, sales managers can begin to devise a more comprehensive marketing plan for exhibitors and sponsors—one with a diverse array of products and opportunities.
Approaching the value of a CRM from the perspective of pain points is important because it helps buyers focus on quantifiable goals: reduce the number of databases from three to one, consolidate the number of touches from two a week to one per week, boost closed sales by ten percent, reduce support staff by one person, increase package sales (upsells) by five percent. The real possibility of achieving those objectives makes it easier for organizers to justify the purchase.