The sales process - the steps of getting a customer to say yes - hasn’t changed much over the years.
I do feel though, that the mystical sales curtain has been pulled back in so many instances. Not only has the great wizard been exposed, but so has the puppy dog close and “Do you want it in red or green?”. Those who have been selling for more than a few years know what I am talking about.
These days, customers and prospects are much more informed about the business to business sales process. They understand how the process works, and can smell a bad close, like cheap cologne, a mile away. You won’t, and you shouldn’t try to, pull a fast one on anyone.
Trade shows continue to be an important part of the the sales process. Shows can represent the ever-important first step, or introduction. For customers or prospects you already know, meeting at a trade show can reestablish rapport with a discussion of needs, a demonstration and maybe a close! After all, this may be the only time this year you get a face-to-face meeting with your prospect (that’s a whole other blog).
European companies also value trade show opportunities. Trade shows, like fairs and exhibitions in Europe, are integral pieces of the sales puzzle.
Any similarities though, stop right there.
What’s different? Well, just about everything. The focus, number of days, hours, booth sizes, regulations, logistics, labor, culture and yes, the financial commitment.
The costs associated with exhibiting at a trade show in the United States can be two to three times the cost of similar space and amenities at a European venue.
It’s not like show organizers is trying to overcharge, it’s just the nature of the beast. I can’t really explain it any other way unless you’ve actually participated in a show. If I’ve had this conversation once, I’ve had it a hundred times. Really, that’s how much it will cost.
Countless articles have been published on comparative show costs, and there is no shortage of websites and LinkedIn groups dedicated to the subject. One of our exhibit partners has put together the most concise comparison I’ve seen to date. Click on this link to download a copy. It is truly worth the read.
Based on the conversations I’ve had over the years, the two biggest differences between exhibiting in the U.S. vs Europe are:
1. Logistics. The United States is big.... really big. More distance means higher costs to move people and properties from point A to point B. After driving from San Francisco to Chicago, a family friend from France stated, “It’s like driving from Paris to Moscow!”
New York to SanFrancisco: 2900 miles (4667 km)
Chicago to Orlando: 1200 miles (1931 km)
Atlanta to Las Vegas: 2000 miles (3218 km)
Seattle to New Orleans: 2600 miles (4184 km)
Washington DC to Dallas: 1400 miles (2253 km)
It even starts to freak me out when I look at the mileage. Those are long hauls!
2. Time and Focus. In the United States, show days (2-3 at most) and hours are fewer than European shows. In the U.S. most trade shows are associated with educational components like seminars and classes. Time is tight. Entertainment and extended conversations many times are carried out at functions before or after show hours.
The focus of show hours is more about gathering attendee’s information and establishing follow up requirements for after the event. There is little time to do much else. Instead of wining, dining and socializing in the booth/stand, as can be the focus at many European events, those functions are mostly accomplished outside show hours or off the show floor. So the four couches, six comfy chairs and open bar in a 20’ inline space might not cut it. There is just not enough time and space.
For explanation of the other differences, I invite you to download the pdf. And believe me, we’re not just making it all up.
My recommendation? Stick to the basics:
-Close (for the next step)
To all of our European friends, the sales process here is not that different, but the nature of trade shows and exhibitions is quite different. There is a popular saying that goes “When in Rome, do as the Romans”.
In the U.S., we have a similar adage: “When in Chicago/Las Vegas/Orlando/Atlanta, etc. do as show management, the venues, freight companies, labor, and mostly the customer, tell you”.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. He just wants to know if you want delivery on Monday or Wednesday.