Monday, April 4, 2011

Collecting Leads at Vendor Events

For most businesses the single most important aspect of vendor events is to obtain leads or new business contacts.  Selling product, if it applies to your business, is money for the moment- a one-time sale.  New leads can open up many new business relationships creating multiple potential opportunities.

In my last post about vendor events (Preparing for Vendor Events), I created a list of materials you should bring.  Among the list, was a variety of literature to offer people who stop by your booth.  Providing a catalog, flier, or business card helps to familiarize people with your product and your name but most people will not follow up with you.  It is critical for you to collect contact information for each individual so you can follow up with them. 

Hosting a drawing for services or products helps draw people to your table.  Have individuals fill out a lead form or drawing ticket of some sort.   This form should include all forms of contact for the individual: name, address, phone number, and email address.  Create a check list of items they may want to request information on or ask questions they can answer yes or no.  You want the form to provide a window of the type of services or products you provide through the questions you ask.  Make it short, sweet and target your questions to the specific goal for this event.  For example, I ask two questions on my form.  One is geared towards booking home shows and the second is geared towards sharing my business opportunity.

You may want to go the extra mile to attract people to your table.  If it is a family friendly event, offer a piece of candy or a sticker to children who pass by to draw the family towards your table.  Some events encourage vendors to have some sort of interactive game.  As people are walking by you can offer them a free (inexpensive) gift or perhaps a sample of your product. 

You will need to be outgoing and talk to people before they talk to you.  For many, this is outside your comfort zone.  Plan in advance what you want to tell people about your business.  You can ask people if they are familiar with your company to begin the conversation.  Your next step could be to share your 30 second commercial, introducing your company and product.  You will find yourself repeating much of the same information over and over again during the day.

Here is a great example.  At the last event I attended, a dentist office was set up beside me.  Colorful balloon trees on either side of their booth helped attract people.  They had a large poster with information about the dentist and office services sitting on their table, as well as a number of brochures people could take with them.  Visitors could play a game- guess the number of flosses in a large glass canister and the number of toothpaste tubes in another.  Each entrant filled out the drawing ticket and put their guesses on the back.  The person with the best estimate could win a free tooth whitening.  Everyone who stopped by received a cookie tied with colorful curly ribbon and a business card.  The girls working the booth were dressed in their office uniform, looking professional, with shining smiles.

It is important to be over the top friendly and attempt to make a connection with your visitors.  The type of event could give you some good lead questions to open up communication with your visitors.  At a family focused event, you could ask the ages of the children, or  where they go to school.  Inquiring about clubs and activities they are involved with will give you the opportunity to offer additional services like fundraisers.

Collecting leads is only the beginning step.  A piece of paper with contact information is useless when sitting in a pile on your desk.  Following up with each contact based on the answers to their questions is critical to the success of the event.  I find it very helpful to write notes on the back of each drawing ticket about the individual I meet and what we discussed so that I can recall the person when I call them to follow up.

Networking with other vendors at events is a critical step you do not want to miss!  Talk with them before the event starts, share your business card, tell them about your drawing, and encourage them to stop by your booth if they get a chance.  You could even offer them a show discount if they make a purchase from you that day.  Obtaining their business is a good goal but also asking them about other resources in your community is beneficial too.  You can ask about other events they do and networking opportunities available.

These events can be a lot of work depending on the size.  The results are rarely predictable.  Immediate sales can recoup event fees, leads can grow your business but regardless it will be a valuable learning experience!

Related posts you may like:
Finding Vendor Opportunities
Preparing For Vendor Events
Simple & Inexpensive Credit Card Processing

Visit my vendor opportunities page for events in the Tampa Bay Area.  Not from here?  Send me events in your area and I'll create a database for you too.


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