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Reach Out and Touch Someone!

How effective are your sales people? You spend money to create marketing materials and buy booth space at a trade show. You pay for air travel, hotels, taxis and food. And, what do they do?

I’ve had the opportunity to attend and participate in 3 trucking trade shows this month. The simultaneous Green Truck/Work Truck show in Indianapolis, the Technology and Maintenance Council meeting in Nashville, and the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, KY. I participated in committee meetings, made presentations, organized sessions and had booth duty. I did what some of the best sales people have done over the years that called on me when I was in the corporate world. The only thing I did not have to do was set up the booth and arrange to get materials there. I only observed this as others were responsible for the booth. I was however on the floor during the set up and the mad runup to the opening of the doors.

Great! All those preparations, all those costs, all that time put in. And, what is the goal? I believe it should be to get qualified leads for follow up after the show. Now, here’s my complaint. I don’t want people sitting in their booths typing away on their computers, surfing the internet on their smart phones, talking with others on the phone, leaving the booth to take the cell phone call, talking among themselves and ignoring potential customers, or eating their lunch. I have the most respect for the people that use my visible name tag to call out to me and try to engage me in discussion. It can be as simple as complimenting me on my jacket (which someone did at a food show earlier this year) to asking if I am responsible for fuel purchases at my company (what someone I know did to the person in front of me as I approached his booth). I don’t like people that just sit there and watch people passing by, just waiting for the customer to come to them. I suppose they believe a good lead will find them and that saves them time and effort and prevents useless leads.

I know from experience and training that sales is often a numbers game that can benefit from measuring the number of contacts, the number of follow up calls, the number of presentations, quotes and contracts signed. Early on I learned that the AVERAGE sale takes five contacts and that, too often, people give up after just two or three attempts. Some sales are going to take more than the average. It takes time and effort to build trust (more on that in another blog entry). In today’s world of e-mail, pop-up ads, electronic newsletters and more, it may take 13 contacts if you count all those items. The time to qualify a contact is after you make contact, in my opinion, not before by waiting for them to come to your booth.

So, reach out and touch someone. Shake their hand. Get them to make eye contact. Get them to hear you above the din.