One of the most beneficial aspects of going to industry trade shows is having the ability to gain first-hand insight into the products and services you’re seeking to procure and the nature of the people representing the vendors. Face-to-face meetings and interactions with representatives can provide a buyer with perspectives far more nuanced than they might absorb from marketing materials and web research. Yet, trade shows can be overwhelming. It’s easy to come away from your attendance at these events without any actionable intelligence. What should you do to prepare for a trade show so you come away from the event with a clear path toward making an important selection regarding workforce management solutions/providers?
- Define Reasons and Set Goals for Attendance
Never attend simply to “see what’s out there.” Instead, prepare ahead of time by building a list of key business requirements and mission-critical features/functions your ideal solution simply must possess.
- Research the Exhibitors in Advance
The list of exhibitors is always published well in advance. Review the list and do some due diligence on any/all of the vendors whose solutions you think may be an appropriate match for the requirements you identified in your definitions. Narrow the often-sprawling list of vendors/exhibitors down to a short list of those you will visit with when you attend.
- Balance Your Time
Besides visiting potential solution providers, there are also many opportunities to attend forums, panel discussions, workshops and seminar events within the show. These activities are a great source of knowledge and provide great opportunities for knowledge transfer. But there are more events and vendors at these events than you could effectively engage. So make a plan to hit those most valuable to you, and avoid being scattered in your approach.
- Set Meetings
As early as you can before the event (once you’ve determined which vendors you want to investigate) reach out and set specific meeting times/dates with your hot prospects. Plan your activities so that you’ll have enough time to both meet with vendors and attend the special events you’re most interested in. Setting these appointments in advance allows the provider the opportunity to prepare to speak with you in more detail about your needs which you will have communicated in advance. This helps optimize the effect of meeting in person and establishes a more effective connection with the providers you may ultimately do business with.
- Bring the Right People
Everyone likes to attend trade shows. While there is definitely a social, recreational and networking element to attending these events, stay focused on the reason why you’re making the effort to attend. Bring the people in your organization who will be most closely involved in the selection, implementation and utilization of the solutions you’re seeking.
- Network and Gather Intel
Trade events are great for networking and strengthening the industry connections that can help you achieve your workforce management goals. Be sure to take advantage of the networking potential. More importantly, these get-togethers provide a unique opportunity to observe what your competition may be doing. Do your best to keep tabs on the things your counterparts in other organizations are viewing and doing. Record notes on what the competition is up to at the event, and bring them back to your team for deconstruction and examination.
Don’t forget to have a good time!