Monday, June 16, 2014

How To Maximize The Exhibitor Hall Experience

The Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference is upon us. How do I know? Because my inbox is flooded with requests for interaction from the world's finest sales people. If you haven't attended the SHRM Annual conference in the past, the Exhibitor Hall can be a bit intimidating. Sales and Marketing professionals in logo-ed polo shirts engage their core audience through i-pad raffles, branded handouts and interactive stuffed Monster giveaways.

I've had the equal pleasure of working a vendor booth and walking the Exhibitor Hall as a conference staff member. So, while this week's SHRM preparation editorials are aimed at conference attendees, I'd like to offer a few tips to the boys and girls that will be on their feet all day.

Let's Run The Numbers....
Let's say your company has invested $100,000 all in for the SHRM Experience (this is a hypothetical figure). Your average deal size is $10,000. You'll need to close just 10 deals to secure your investment. I like your odds!

With the aforementioned formula in mind, allow me to advise a few points.

Stuffed Animals are Incapable of Conversation
Your company has printed a bunch of stat sheets, you've got branded stuffed lizards, your badge scanner, and a pocket full of gift cards. Your goal: scan as many badges as possible to add to your pipeline, correct? Incorrect.

If your only intent is handing out collateral and scanning badges you will collect a ton of names from people who very well may not be your target audience.

Quality not Quantity 
If you rush to scan the badges of every person who walks the hall you may miss out on a genuine conversation with your greatest potential customer.

Slow down and advise the following:
1. Introduce yourself.
2. Look at the person's badge.
3. Ask if they have a business problem that your product, service or personal expertise can fix.
4. If they qualify, have a meaningful conversation.
5. Differentiate yourself.
6. Set action items for follow-up.

Even the finest sales pitch will not make an impression with a conference attendee who has seen 700 companies that do the same thing you do.

Make is personal, understand the other organizational players involved in the sales process, introduce qualified prospects to Subject Matter Experts... don't waste your time demoing your product for a person who does not fit your target audience or who does not have a need for your service.

Don't Be Annoying...
Some HR people are introverted. Don't scare away your audience. As easily as you can create a lead, you can destroy one.

* Don't scan a person's badge if they do not request it.
* Don't pretend you are working a carnival dunk tank.
* Don't waste your time talking to someone who does not extend you the courtesy of their full attention.

Have Fun!
It sucks being away from your family to stand on your feet all day. Believe me, I feel your pain!

Find people that engage your interest, have a beverage (or 17) and make sure you sell something!

See You in Orlando!

~ Dave


  1. You know what I find really annoying as an attendee? Exhibitors who don't follow up. Last year, there were two specific vendors that basically just had to send me a contract after the conference and they would have had my business. Both promised they would be in touch right after SHRM ended. I never heard back from either company! I went to the event prepared -- I had target companies; I asked the right questions; I stated that I was looking to close things quickly. Really, really strange if you ask me.

  2. Anonymous - I would say your experience is a very rare exception. History has dictated to the contrary. Bummer, nonetheless, that your preparation and desire for partnership was overlooked.