HIMSS17: Cement customer relationships throughout the tradeshow experience

By Ashlea Cartee on February 16th, 2017

With healthcare technology’s biggest conference of the year approaching, many healthcare companies have made significant investments to create a visually appealing and engaging booth experience. In fact, one recent survey by Forrester Research shows that tradeshows consume 20 percent of B2B companies’ budgets, the largest single portion.

Equally important is investing in relationships, whether they may be with potential or current customers. While booth eye candy has the power to draw in visitors, marketers can make the experience memorable by taking time and attention getting to know attendees. Reaching out, asking good questions, active listening and providing something of value to the conversation are simple yet powerful ways to build trust and credibility. They are also effective and proven relationship building techniques that generate positive returns.

Perform due diligence. To begin building that trust, you need a plan. That starts with learning about why potential customers are at HIMSS17 or any tradeshow. A survey from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) offers broad insight into these motivations:

  • 92 percent of tradeshow attendees come to see and learn about “what’s new” in products and services.
  • 46 percent of executive decision makers made purchase decisions while attending a show.
  • 77 percent of executive decision makers found at least one new supplier at the last show they attended.

Your potential customers will have their own unique pain points and goals in mind when speaking with you. Learning a bit more about the attendees visiting your booth beforehand can move the trust-building process forward faster.

Plant the seeds before the show. CEIR has also found that three out of four attendees decide which booths to visit before attending the show. If you want to make the list, you need to begin by building trust before they leave for the show. Nothing does that better than teaching an attendee something of value without asking for anything in return.

For example, why not create some educational content focused on addressing pain points or frequently asked questions? Differentiate yourself with a multi-touch campaign that shares valuable content with a unique theme and call-to-action. Such trust-building outreach to drive booth traffic might include email blasts with actionable tips and a link to whitepapers, case studies or landing pages with deeper, higher-value content.

At the tradeshow. The relationship building and knowledge sharing should continue at the event. Retain customers and build loyalty by taking time to meet and check in with them. At your booth, create a learning environment that delivers valuable information and supports thought leadership. You might offer a high-level presentation or a first-look at product advances, which also helps build trust between the sales rep and potential and existing customers. Support your efforts by leveraging social media channels to ensure attendees stop by your booth.

Post-show follow through. Once the show is over, make a bigger impact on sales and, most importantly, trust, by personally following up with the attendee. With marketing automation technology, for example, you can send an immediate, personalized email thanking them for stopping by and include a special offer or incentive. Once you’re back in the office, add your potential customers to lead nurturing campaigns that center on the trends and information from the tradeshow.

Measuring performance. While there are qualitative measures to gauge ROI from this outreach, such as satisfaction among your C-suite, more significant quantifiable metrics include the contact information collected and the percentage of potential customers that transform into clients. Another metric might be your success at leveraging the presence of media to generate new relationships and coverage.

Potential customers are great but you’re in this for the long game. Focusing on being open, honest, genuine and just plain trustworthy is a great way to improve all of these metrics, and far more memorable than a scripted sales pitch.

To learn more about how to elevate your tradeshow efforts through building trust, read our recent newsletter

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