In this step we are talking about ways and techniques you can use to generate appointments and meetings, so your days are packed with value at the show.
We all know how tiring and daunting manning a tradeshow booth can be… the long days – hours on your feet – often just standing waiting for the next person to come along who shows an interest in what you have on display…
Well that can all change after you have read this...
This post is part of a series of 17 steps to mastering your trade show ROI. If you haven’t already seen in you need to go back to the first post in the series that covers your goals and objectives. While you can take the information in this single post by itself and improve your results - you will have far greater success if you approach it like a mini course and move from one step to the next.
With a schedule packed full of people who are excited to see you and talk to you – you certainly wont have time to feel exhausted let alone think about it!
So how do you achieve this – it sounds great – but tell me more you are saying…
Use a calendar scheduling tool…! Yes it's that easy and for some reason very few people I've come across use one.
In an earlier step when we talked about landing pages – you can very easily set-up a form that allows people to register for the event and that’s fine, you can even use those tools to book an appointment.
The trouble with most of them is they don’t talk to your google calendar or outlook or whatever online dairy you are using. So when someone books in it sends you an email saying, “Hey guess what – someone wants to see you at the expo – great news congratulations!” then you have to go to your calendar, book a time in – confirm with them, change it, confirm again and on it goes.
Double booking is bound to happen, and if you don’t set times at all… you will end up with 4 people turning up and wanting to talk to you at the same time and you will surely lose 2 or even 3 of them because they have other people to see.
A scheduling tool allows people to book a set time with you and actually puts it on your calendar and stops anyone else taking that same time slot.
There are 3 options that we recommend you check out. If you are using the Google calendar – look at Calendly.com or Scheduleonce.com. If you are on Office365 and have a premium account – use their Bookings tool - outlook.office.com/bookings. You can still use the first 2 options if you are using MS Office but the Outlook Booking tool will only work with Office obviously!
Calendly has a free plan and Outlook Bookings is included in your premium subscription so go and try them out to see what suits best. You will need to upgrade to a paid version of Calendly or Schedule Once to have access to features like deeper integration and custom branding etc.
Another option if you are using Hubspot marketing is their meeting tool. It is also very effective and has a lot of options.
What you want to do first is set-up the time frame that people can book with you – this will typically be the duration of the show and the show opening times. Unless you are doing evening meal networking or something. Once this is done – people visiting your booking page will be forced to choose from one of the available spots during those hours only.
As the meetings are booked in the available space will reduce. This does 2 things for you – first it shows that you respect peoples time and you don’t want to waste it. And second it creates a sense of urgency for visitors that if they want to talk to you they are going to have to get in early!
Play around with the settings on whatever platform you choose as you can generally set different time slots for people to choose from. You may want to send your top clients/prospects a 30min slot if you have a demo or specific sales discussion to have with them. While your general database you can just send a 10 or 15 minute slot. Just be wary of booking short meeting times. 10 minutes goes fast when you are in a face to face meeting and you don’t want to start running late with your appointments.
You are better off having slight buffers in your calendar to allow for someone interested to go a bit over time than having a lineup of people who have booked but can’t talk to you because you haven’t finished with the last person!
If you have never done this before – you may want to make your bookings further apart the first time so you can record how long you are spending with each person and then make it tight for the next show.
Now that you have the platform set-up, share the link or embed it on your website – whatever you are most comfortable with - and start sending it out to the people who you would like to set-up appointments with. When you have got them booked in – email it to the rest of your list to fill up the remaining spaces. If your messages are well constructed and you are targeting the right people – your calendar will fill up very fast.
Each team member can do this exact same process to make sure everyone is full. If you do this you will need to segment your list so that the same people aren’t asked to book a meeting with 2 different people! We also recommend leaving at least one person free to deal with the foot traffic that will inevitably call in as well. If your team is large enough, a good idea is to rotate this person with someone else so they don’t lose their motivation during the expo.
You can also set up the scheduling tool in the paid versions with each of your team members available to select from. This means you don’t have to segment your list but your prospects or clients can choose who they want to talk to when they call in.
No more double booking, no more wasted hours on the expo floor, no more unmotivated staff waiting for the next visitor to show up… Get started on this today and you will very soon have confidence that this expo will be your best ever!