For years, the process for selling exhibit space and sponsorships was essentially the same. Sales representatives would get a mailing list, member directory or exhibitor list (from a competing show). They would send a letter (later an email) to warm up the prospect, and then pick up the phone to make the pitch. A sale is more complex today—from identifying the prospects to making the call. Many are turning to automation to help simplify the process.

No one answers the phone. If caller ID and voice messaging haven’t killed telephone sales, they have definitely crippled it. Even though modern phone systems help actually sales reps get around gatekeepers, they also make it easier for the intended call recipients to avoid answering or even block calls. As a result, reps have to make more calls to more people and keeping track can be a nightmare for a large tradeshow.

Customers are coming to you. Many trade show marketing departments have changed tactics. While some still do direct mail, others engage in digital, content, or inbound marketing to harness the full power of the Internet and search engines. When done correctly and effectively, marketing attracts potential customers who then have to be turned over to sales. The handoff from marketing to sales can be messy when the number of prospects grows.

Prospects appear in so many more places. Potential exhibitors and sponsors are likely on the same mailing lists and in the same directories as before, but they can also have presences on social media channels, in online communities, as part of discussion groups, and in digital publications. Tracking companies and individuals across multiple channels can be a challenge.

Sales can happen anywhere. The notion that an event salesperson sits at a desk all day dialing for dollars is no longer realistic. Salespeople are mobile—they go visit key customers, attend other tradeshows, and network at social events. And because they’re on the go, many find it difficult to stay up to date with the recordkeeping and reporting end of the process. When they have to wait until they’re back in the office to update their files, some vital pieces of information can get lost along the way.

There is something that event organizers can do. Cloud-based CRMs help sales teams stay on top of their call rotations, get leads while they’re hot, follow prospects on social media channels and elsewhere, and update files remotely and in real time. Meeting customers’ needs, finding mutual solutions to their problems, and being responsive has NOT changed over the years. It’s just that now, there is a better and more efficient way to automate the sales process so that reps can spend more time helping customers.


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