Why Selling Booth Space Is About More Than Real Estate
Selling booth space is a cornerstone of most exhibition and tradeshow businesses. It seems like a simple concept, but it’s actually one of the most complex elements of the business for trade shows and exhibitions that are seeking to grow in 2016. Selling booth space is not as clear-cut as other B2B and B2C sales models and has unique dynamics that make the sales process unique in its own right.
Compelling offers are key to selling booth space
Show floor real estate is important. Many exhibitors that participate in the top-level shows want booth space that is positioned in a dynamic way for their target audience. But, they also want the optimal experience with a show – high attendance, flexible packages for the services they care about most and built-in marketing opportunities. Selling booth space is about far more than just the real estate of the actual booth. It's about the opportunity that your show can provide an exhibitor. Hopefully, your sales team understands that this value extends far beyond just a physical location.
Here are a few outside-the-box tips to bump revenues and retain exhibitors year-over-year:
• Know that real estate isn’t everything. Obviously, booth space is a huge money maker, but sponsorships and marketing opportunities also add to your exhibitors’ experience (and to your revenue). Make sure that your sales staff really understands the value of these opportunities and their importance to exhibitors. Don’t let these go undervalued by your potential customer. Positioning is important when it comes to branding, and exhibitors should know this extends beyond just the location of a booth space. The more your staff can speak to the benefits of things like social media and digital marketing benefits, and offer them up front in the sales process, the more they’ll bolster revenue and your show’s reputation.
• Give them what they need. Create packages for booth space and value-added services. Savvy exhibitors do research to determine what the potential ROI for value-added services are for businesses like theirs. Carefully craft your packages to offer the best range of services for each kind of potential customer. Be careful to find the balance between too many options and one-size fits all. Your sales team should understand that these exhibitors come into these conversions loaded with information. If they suspect you are just trying to upsell them to the most premium package regardless of their needs, your sales team will lose credibility. By having carefully positioned packages — and training your sales team about where each package fits — you can help your sales force begin forming an advisor-esque relationship with customers.
• Make it pretty. Aesthetically pleasing websites with a variety of “cool” functions aren’t just a fad. They’re a revenue driver. We’re well into the digital age, so your exhibitors expect an engaging, easy-to-navigate website experience. Even ugly websites can get the job done, but well-designed websites that seamlessly deliver the data your exhibitors want in the packaging they want to see it in are guaranteed to convert sales. Your sales team will hate to hear this, but often times they are non-critical to selling booth space. Many times potential customers (especially first-timers) do a large majority of their decision-making online prior to their first conversation with a rep.
• Get the right people in the door. Exhibition and trade show managers face a chicken or the egg situation. They can’t get exhibitors if they don’t have the attendance. Faced with this dilemma, too often show organizers lean on marketing to exhibitors over attendees. However, this may be a short-sighted solution. The audience your show brings is one of the biggest things exhibitors are purchasing when they buy booth space. Make sure your marketing efforts prioritize accordingly.
• Remember that the show itself isn’t the star. Your show is important, but how your exhibitors and attendees experience the show is really what keeps them coming back. This may sound cheesy but exhibitors and attendees need to be the priority. Keeping their experience in mind during planning will help you retain more business year to year. Selling booth space is as much about selling the experience of networking and developing leads as it is about selling something physical.
Protect your sales from the backend
Adopting these techniques will help your team when they're selling booth space, but it’s important not to sabotage your efforts on the frontend with back office processes that can’t keep up. Everything about expo and trade show management is interconnected. Protect your new strategies by avoiding these pitfalls:
• Don’t lose track of your leads. Your CRM should make it simple to market to both lead prospects and renewals. A lot of CRM products have to be heavily customized for exhibition and trade show management. Does your current CRM readily handle the day-to-day nuances of your business? Is it mobile so that you can add renewals from the show floor?
• Don’t use too many systems. Most expo and trade shows rely on too many programs with too many points of data entry. Integrated systems smooth business processes and prevent data loss. Imagine having one product that can manage your show end-to-end with all your data in one place. Integration frees up more of your time to go after leads and nurture current clients.
Start boosting sales
The major lesson here is that elevating the exhibitor and attendee experience will help your sales team when they're selling booth space. Find out what your attendees need from your show to guarantee yearly attendance and give your exhibitors the tools and services they need to make it happen. Then focus on solutions for integrating these frontend offerings with your backend management. The strategies and techniques I’ve outlined will set your exhibition or tradeshow business on the path to continued success.
How has your show boosted booth sales year-over-year? Share your tips and experiences with us!