Cvent research finds exhibitors not capitalising on trade fair sales

Cvent, the meetings industry’s software-as-a-service company, has found that millions of business professionals who exhibit at trade fairs, conferences and other major networking events, risk not converting onsite sales meetings into business due to a multitude of errors.

The factors involved with failing to convert meetings into business include generic sales pitches, misspelt names, incorrect company labels and job titles in follow-up communications. Pushy and over-assertive salespeople, “hard-sell” techniques and selling unsuitable products or services as well as being harassed by phone calls were also found to be significant factors in exhibitors losing out on potential business.

Of the 2,000 respondent to the Cvent survey, 43 per cent said they would avoid exhibitors who are too pushy and a further 12 per cent said they would avoid exhibitors who have spelt or said their name wrong.

However, 34 per cent said they would be inclined to do business with an exhibitor if they remembered important aspects of their business needs. A further 22 per cent said personalised follow-ups could persuade them to continue with a sale, and 17 per cent prefer it when an exhibitor reaches out to them before they get in contact.

Cvent’s research revealed a quick turnaround in communication was preferred by buyers as 19 per cent said they like to connect with a contact they made at an event within 24 hours after the event had ended; while all the information is still fresh. Nearly half (47 per cent) said email was their preferred method of contact.

Judy Elvey, director of marketing at Cvent said: “Exhibition and conference attendance plays a crucial role in helping to boost a company’s sales pipeline. Yet exhibitors still struggle to capture and follow-up on leads efficiently and miss pivotal opportunities to maximise face time with prospects onsite – which ultimately means lost revenue.”

However, Lindsay Neilson, senior market manager at VisitScotland business events, told M&IT at Imex Frankfurt that measuring the conversion of meetings at trade shows and conferences into business is difficult to quantify.

“Sometimes people sit down and say ‘I’m looking for new ideas in Scotland’ and you can have a really great conversation and you can really pique someone’s interest, but it’s not until two or three years down the line that they then have an event that is perfect for Scotland. So how do you measure that?” said Neilson.

While converting meetings into business is the ultimate aim of attending trade shows, the research does reveal that 46 per cent of attendees believed the best use of time at a stand is to find out how a product or service can help their business.

Also, 27 per cent of respondents said it was about meeting the people on the stand to see if they understand their business.

Echoing these particular highlights of the research is Liz Brand, senior sales manager at the Brighton Centre who told M&IT that trade shows are about being visible to potential clients.

“Whilst having hard and fast enquiries coming in is all part of it, it’s not the total picture. A lot of being out here at IMEX [Frankfurt] is about profile, about being seen to be out here. It’s really about being very visible, being approachable and having a great product,” Brand added.

Cevnt’s research proves that having a brand presence at industry trade shows is vital to acquire new business as 24 per cent of survey respondents said they had already heard about the company and wanted to know more.

A further 19 per cent said they were swayed to visit a stand by exhibitors simply saying hello and being friendly.