Phone Call Or Trade Show Meeting?

By a ratio of at least 5:1, manufacturers ask us for trade show meetings vs phone calls.

I find this strange, given that a phone call is a lot easier to say yes to and a lot easier to dedicate 30 minutes or an hour. By contrast, shows are very time constrained, requiring to say no to most meetings, to keep meetings as short as possible and still a risk of cancellation because other meetings went too long, etc.

I recognize the human advantages of in-person meetings but how charming do manufacturers think they are that a booth meeting is going to produce that much more value / connection than a phone call?

What do you think?

Btw, vote here:

I'm not a sales person, but I know sales much prefer one-on-one meetings.

But for IPVM, I don't see why that would be important to a manufacturer. IPVM is not going to be a big buyer and IPVM staff are technical enough that a song and dance isn't going to do much good.

"I know sales much prefer one-on-one meetings."

I agree with you.

There's no doubt that in person meetings are better than phone but those in-person meetings are a lot harder to get and more expensive to do.

My question: after factoring in the costs / limits of in-person meetings, do they really provide more value than a phone call / webinar?

I get there are people who either buy based on relationships or are naive. Those people, for sure, you want to meet with in person. But everyone else?

Would you rather have an introduction, or a date? The booth is the introduction. The exclusive meeting, even by telephone, is the date.

As a form of marketing, trade shows are different from phone calls. A trade show provides:

- Name identification (awareness of the brand - There's a Zunbar Industries out there?)

- Positioning (Ah, I see Zunbar Industries makes the first H.266 camera!)

- Implied success (Wow, Zunbar must be doing pretty well, their booth is GINORMOUS!)

- And dozens of other little things like what kind of company it is. Are the booth attendants in business attire, or dressed down? Are they slick salespersons, geeky engineers, or booth babes? Are they standing on the edge of their carpet, facing outward, hands out of pockets, smiling and easy to approach -- or are they clustered together in groups, playing with gadgets, looking at their phones and giving every impression they don't want to be there?

All of these things can be accomplished at a trade show without even talking to anyone in the booth. If all that works, a quick meeting can then take place and some preliminary information can be exchanged for an exclusive meeting later. A trade show is not the best place for an in-depth business conversation. Sure, some booths will incorporate private meeting rooms but this is not common.

In my opinion, the number of leads generated is not a good measure of a trade show. I could generate more leads with a Zunbar Industries tabletop display than the largest booth in the show. If number of leads is all that matters, some trade shows will sell you their entire registration list after the show -- no booth required!

A telephone meeting is a different thing entirely. It is private, exclusive, and implies an interest in the lead's doing business with me. It is the next step in the process of gaining a new customer. Sure, the whiz-bang impact of my horrendously expensive trade show appearance isn't there. But the purpose of all that was to get the meeting. Now that I have that, I no longer need the trade show. It would be like being invited to interview for a job and responding by sending your resume.

And don't Google H.266 -- I made that up.

How do you know what type of person you're dealing with beforehand? And in person you have more of a captive audience.

I also imagine it's economy of scale. I would hope a sales team would have sense enough not to gamble a couple thousand dollars in expenses for a payoff of only $10,000. But it might well be worth it to put in everything you have if it's six figures or more, including gambiling the expense of a one-on-one for the payoff. I'll sit back and see what some sales people or manufacturers have to say.

"How do you know what type of person you're dealing with beforehand?"

Lots, if not most meetings, at trade shows are with people you have already dealt with beforehand, either prospects you have talked to before, existing customers, targets you know from past companies, etc.

Just like when manufacturers contact us, presumably they know who they are 'dealing with beforehand'.

I suspect turning in a number to your supervisor that you had "xx" booth meetings is more meaningful to the marketing group than stating you had "xx" phone calls.

"That" may be why a booth meeting is pushed so hard--not due to anything related to effectiveness.

had "xx" booth meetings is more meaningful to the marketing group than stating you had "xx" phone calls.

That sounds reasonable as it helps justify the booth 'investment'.

Ironically, as I try to explain to manufacturers, we are much less likely to write about you based on a visit to a booth than a phone call before a show. The later gives us more time and flexibility to write, the former means you get lost in a flood of meetings.

Are the Security Industry manufacturers now borrowing a page from the MLM (Multi-Level Marketing) industry ?? If yes, then I think peer-pressure is the deciding factor here over simple phone calls; i.e.: after an MLM "phenomenal" product presentation in front of a packed audience, and after the catered foods and refreshments, then all attendees to the meetings divide in small groups and sit in circles facing each other. Are you willing to sign the contract handed by the group coordinator (sales rep) and contribute to the "excitement built-up-in-the-air" and receive a big round of applause from everyone or refuse to (mmm...let me think about it) and being looked down upon immediately ???

To be clear: the peer pressure factor, from the standpoint of a sales rep and the surrounding people in circles towards potential customers (which everyone in the circle is, except for the sales rep which ONCE was); not from a standpoint of a manufacturer to a "customer" like; which I may think is another case.

It kinda depends on what the toppic of discussion is, but for most discussions I find in-person better than over the phone. Just simple things like facial expressions, gestures, etc.

Additionally, if you're discussing anything that has a visual element (camera image quality, software interface, etc.) I think that in-person works better than over the phone.

Webex and gotomeeting are basically products that popped up because (IMO) most people prefer in-person meetings, but that isn't always possible, but phone-only is not very desireable either. Collaboration tools are the next-best thing.

Usually these kind of events are just show & tell. No real in depth communicaiton as you are dealing with the 5 min. short presentation of which you are competing with 10 other people to sell an idea or concept.

I would rather sit down at lunch for a 1-2 hours or listen to a webinar .

There is so much at these trade shows your overwelmed and only 1/2 there. Info Overload

I just Buy Myself a New Toy , Cars,Trucks,Tools, Meters, Writeoffs for the business.

John, the sale is based on trust, and is a more emotional decision than most people are willing to admit. This is especially true of large sales where you're going to have to live with the decision for some time, and your reputation is on the line.

Yes, everybody wants to be logical and analytical about their decisions, but when many products/services will technically suffice, and there are trade-offs/compromises to consider, there will also be a large element of trust and emotion in the buying decision.

Maya Angelou said it--people will forget what you said and what you did, but they'll never forget how you made them feel. Face-to-face meetings are the opportunity for a sales person to make you feel like you can trust them. And given that most actual decision makers (management, executives, etc) tend to be from the sales side themselves, they also tend to be people-people who are going to put more "emotional investment" into this face time than even they might like to admit.

Of course, you started this topic with "you," and I know you're personally not swayed so much by anything other than the facts. Here I'm talking about manufacturer sales people and their relationship with integrators and end-users. Those sales people don't control the technology, price, logistics, etc., but what they're supposed to be good at is controlling the emotional aspect of the sale, whatever small or large piece that may play.

"Those sales people don't control the technology, price, logistics, etc., but what they're supposed to be good at is controlling the emotional aspect of the sale, whatever small or large piece that may play."

Well said.

I do think that there's only so much emotionally you can do at a trade show meeting though. You take a guy on a Caribbean cruise or fly them out for a dream Fresno vacation, sure, I get that...

[Why do manufacturers prefer meetings over phone calls?]

To make their booth look busier...

When is your appt. with IDIS?

"When is your appt. with IDIS?"

Who says we are allowed in their booth?

Related, you'd think they would try to convince us, nope.

Btw, I did reach out Keith Drummond, their head US guy but he never responded. IDIS people, ball is your court.

Related, you'd think they would try to convince us, nope.

Their loss.

Well, the good news is that you'll be able to spend more time at the Viakoo booth...

Viakoo doesn't have an ISC West 2015 booth, saving it for their lobbyist....

Sales people are pressured to have a very full calendar of meetings while at trade shows. It may not be any more effective, but you look better to the boss.

I worked as a rep for a consumer electronics manufacturer for many years. I spent most of my efforts making new contacts for meeting at their locations at the trade shows. I also found existing clients tended to place much larger orders when we could verify inventory while standing in their warehouse with the show specials in hand. The shows are way over rated a well informed buyer knows the market and what he wants and needs and doesn't want paid hoes or old washed up sports heros.

I even find the end user trade shows to be a waste. People tend to be there to shop price and you end up spending lots of wasted time with quotes and follow ups. My best clients come through word of mouth and my other marketing efforts to get people through the door.

If you want to party the trade shows are where it's at. I maybe old school but I prefer to party with friends and maintain a professional image with colleagues and clientel.