David Spark runs his company, Spark Media Solutions, which provides relations-based content. It is primarily made up of what he likes to call brand journalists (aka content marketers) that generate content based on the knowledge of other people. Two-thirds of the company’s business takes place at trade shows and conferences where they spent time interviewing people and created a training program to improve behavior at trade shows to get results. With this experience, David has written a book titled, Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows (threefeetbook.com).
A Quick Preview of the Podcast:
- The three qualifying questions you should be asking at trade shows
- The 4 Step Trade Show Secret
- How to engage prospects and turn them into leads
To See The Transcript:
Tim: [Music] Trade shows can sometimes seem like difficult, frustrating events to generate any real results from. And oftentimes, everyone on the floor is employing the exact same methods to get results. But today, David Spark is here to share us highly effective insanely simple tactics which he recently used to triple a client’s leads in a trade show.
If you ever used trade shows to grow your business and want new powerful ways to engage attendees and turn them into leads, then this episode is for you.
I’m Tim Paige, the Conversion Educator here at LeadPages and this is ConversionCast.
Hey, what’s up, David. Welcome to ConversionCast. Thanks for coming on the show.
David: Thank you for having me, Tim.
Tim: Absolutely. So, today we’re talking about trade shows and in-person events, something that traditionally or maybe not traditionally, I don’t know but I find a lot of people feel like it’s difficult to get any kind of a real ROI from the event other than maybe kind of being noticed and recognized and being there so that people recognize you.
But I think and I know that you’ve experienced this that you can get a real ROI from events. So, can you share with us the results that you were able to get for the client we’re going to talk about today?
David: Yeah. So, for most clients and I’m not speaking for everybody, but for most companies, the reason they go to trade shows is to gather leads. And they’re looking for ways to get more leads. And often they do the route of, you know, hey, giveaways or a big prize and a raffle and things like that. And those do work.
And it’s – and I don’t say stop doing it but we’re a big fan of training the staff for trade show engagement. And we just started training companies at the Black Hat Conference in Las Vegas. We trained the security company called Tenable Network Security. And we tripled their expected leads after training their staff on how to do trade show engagement.
Tim: I love that.
David: And they were very pleasantly. They’re like, “Oh, geez, we didn’t realize you could do all of these kind of stuff.”
Tim: [Laughter] That’s – I love that kind of response. So, before we talk about what you did to get them to get those results, can you just share with our audience who you are and what you do?
David: Yeah. So, my name is David Spark. My company is called Spark Media Solutions. Our primary job is we are brand journalist or content marketers, another term, but I don’t like that term so much. But I use it for others to understand what we’re doing. And we do what we call relations-based content, meaning that we generate content based on the knowledge of other people.
So, we do a good two-thirds of our business to trade shows and conferences mostly interviewing people. And it was through the – just the process or working at so many trade shows and conferences and seeing such bad behavior and what people can do to improve that behavior and just be far more successful that we started tradeshow training.
Tim: Perfect. I love it. And the book is called…
David: Three Feet from Seven Figures: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows. And it’s available at threefeetbook.com.
Tim: Nice. Okay. So, that being said, let’s dive in to some tips that you have because there are a lot of different facets of how to get results, how to get more leads from a trade show. But there are a few things that you’ve really honed in on. Can you share with us some of the keys that you’ve found to really making it work?
David: The key is to make the experience as much about the person that you’re stopping as possible rather than, “Can I tell you about my company?” You know I mean? I’m sorry. This is just not a human way we react. You’re trying to make human interactions and your first goal is to get someone to stop and engage with you. That’s your first goal. And so, we have just a lot of interesting fun ways to stop people and engage.
Honestly, a super simple one that a lot of people do not take advantage of is read the name off of their badge. So, as you walk by, I’ll say, “Hey, Tim.” And you look at me like, “Do I know you?” And I’d go, “No, I don’t know you but I can read your name badge. I’m not good.” And then all of a sudden, you’re stopped in to conversation. I’m stunned at the number of people who don’t take advantage of that incredibly powerful tool.
Tim: Interesting. And so, just – once you’ve done that, where do you go from there? I mean do you just go, “Okay, great.” Now, I got your name. You know, obviously you’re not just going to go check out our company. [Laughter]
David: So, very quickly, you want to stop then engage. Then you want to move over to qualification and then you want to end it. So, it’s kind of stop and engage can be kind of seen as one step. And then qualification is the second step. And then closing the conversation qualified or not.
And there’s – and we offered tons and tons of techniques to stop and engage. But qualification can come in a lot of different formats. I mean the common format which is still good is just say, “Hey. You know, Tim, what do you do?” Or, “Are you responsible for making purchase decisions? Are you responsible for this?” Or, “You know, what do you do, you know, at company XYZ?”
Just engage, show that you’re concern or you care about their business. I must say that if you ever know the business that the people you’re stopping, make a reference of how you know them and what you like about them. That always plays really, really well.
So, once you get in to that kind of conversation with them, you can move in to a qualifying mode very quickly. So, you know, you’re asking them question. And you’re going to ask them a series of yes questions. This is kind of a favorite technique of our, you know, just say, “Hey, you know, are you concerned about the problem X in your industry?” “Yes.” “Would you like to solve that problem faster?” “Yes.” “Would you like to solve it faster and for less money?” “Yes.”
Now, you got three yes, you go, “Well, then I have to help you here because the three things that you want to happen, we happen to have a solution for.” So, that’s a really, really – it’s pretty much a common sales technique but it works extremely in the trade show floor.
Tim:Got you. Okay. So, you know, I think there’s two things that I really want to talk about here. One is, you know, how you stop and get them to talk to you first place. You mentioned one tactic and we’ll talk about a few more. And then the other one is how to properly qualify these prospects.
So, can you share with us a couple of more ways that you can get people to stop and talk to you?
David: My favorite technique and I will say this is pretty much universal and that it’s great for the stop and engage and qualify. Kind of merges those two together.
David: And that is to just simply ask people as they’re roaming the trade show floor, you know, stop, say their name and go, “Hey, Tim. Do you see anything cool on the floor today?” Well, now, it’s all about you, Tim. And now, you’re telling me kind of what interest you immediately. But then it also gives me a little bit of education because I’m kind of trapped here in the booth. I don’t have as much time to be roaming the floor and learning what else is out there.
And so, you know – you know, first thing, it’s a little education. For me, it’s an engagement moment between the two of us. But if you say something your answer about what you felt was a coolest thing, then I have a little bit of information that will tell me if you’re qualified or not qualified.
So, that’s a really, really powerful question. I mean if you take one thing from that interview [Cough], excuse me, this conversation, learn that question. “What’s the coolest thing you’ve seen on the floor today?” Just –
David: …ask that.
Tim: Yeah. I love that. I mean if – for example, if you’re at an internet marketing event and somebody says, “The coolest thing I’ve seen is, you know, that Infusionsoft automation process is really –
Tim: “…cool.” You know they’re doing – you know, they’re running some kind of automation. They’re doing effective online marketing and they’re – you know, you kind of have a sense for what they’re investing and that kind of thing. I love that.
David: Well, it also becomes a point of like what you just said, a point of continuing the conversation. “Oh, Infusionsoft. Well, then you must be doing this and this.” And then they go, “Oh, yeah. Well, we’re doing this and this.” And go, “So, what – you know, what’s the problem you’re having right now?” And then you can get them talking about the problem.
The other thing is not everybody on the floor will be interested in your product. There are going to be plenty of disqualified people, people aren’t qualified. You got to end that conversation gracefully too.
You know, if someone says, “Well, the coolest thing I saw was, you know, launch,” or something or something that’s completely irrelevant, then you say, “Hey, you know, Tim. Thank you so much for stopping by at the booth. You know, we’re company XYZ. We do ABC. Why don’t you drop your card in the bowl for – we’re giving away this product.” And look them in the eye. Shake their hands and say, “Have a great show.”
I mean it’s as simple as that. You know, it’s not more complicated but what’s important is if you, Tim, are not qualified, then you may talk to someone who is qualified. And I need to make that experience for you as positive as possible.
Tim: Awesome. So, tell me how you find out if somebody is qualified or not.
David: Well, that’s something you have to discuss before you hit the trade show floor. And that’s the part that kind of amazes me if they never have that discussion before. And so, obviously, it’s different for company. But I’ll give you kind of a unique example.
We – one company that we spoke to was a trade – event production company. They had a client that their product was like to manage check fraud. And to them who was “qualified” is anyone who believe that check fraud was a half a billion dollar problem or more.
So, you have to think for yourself, you know, what constitute someone who’s qualified? Someone who spends say 2 million dollars in advertising a year. That’s a qualified person or you know, whatever it is the criteria which then – well, it could just be any CTO or CEO in a mid-sized business or you know, a job role or something, just determine what that’s going to be.
And then, you know, be willing to wiggle a little bit on that because not everybody will always fall in to your specific category of what you define as what’s qualified or disqualified.
Tim: Got you. Okay. And do you have any techniques for the specifics of figuring that out?
David: The technique is pretty much understand the chain of communications that goes on in the business, that leads to your sale. So, while the CT – let’s say, the CTO or CIO of a company who’s the one who writes the check, there are also the engineers that work with them and maybe the web developers as well that also work. And may have influence to that CTO or CIO as to making that purchase or not.
So, while the ultimate person to sell it to is that, you also have a series of influencers you need to communicate with as well. So, not only do you need to talk to the influencers but you have to give the influencers the assets to be able to sell to CTO or CIO. I remember we had this issue with doing a product for Microsoft, believe it or not, where we’re selling mostly to mid-level sort of IT manager types. But they were not making the purchases on the product.
David: They needed some like, you say, an ROI cost sheet to show to the CIO or CTO to make that purchase decision. So, if you know that, that relationship happens, when you meet that influencer-type person within the organization, have that one sheet. “Hey, you know what? This interest you, here’s a one sheet that shows the cost break of analysis. Why not show that to your CIO?”
Tim: I love it. And is there anything in this discussion that you feel like we’ve missed that would – that, you know, somebody would need to know in order to kind of implement these tactics?
David: Yeah, the number one thing actually – I would say the two things to learn – know and learn, I mean everything here, one is obviously buy my book. But no, two – [Laughter]
David: No. Two is that that opening line but really if you could do this before even the opening line and that is stop the bad behavior. And what I mean by bad behavior on a trade show floor, it’s behavior that traditionally normal in the office and that’s looking at your phone, talking to your colleagues, working on your computer.
But on a trade show floor, it looks like you just don’t care about anybody else. Not – I mean we have videos and photos galore. When I present about this, I show this, and it looks awful. When you’re in the booth staring at your phone or when you’re in your booth with your back to the floor, huddled with your co-workers in the same colored shirt, nobody realizes because they’re not personally getting rejected.
No one is saying, “Hey. No, I don’t want to talk to you.” They’re actually rejecting you without ever talking to you because they see that behavior walking by. And they go, “Ugh, well, you know, I don’t want to deal with that. They obviously are not interested in me. They rather talk to their co-workers.”
And you got to think of it. Your booth is kind of like a stage. It’s hot for all the hours of trade show floor is open. So, anything you do in that booth reflects negatively. So, if you need to look at your phone, if you need to talk to your colleagues, yeah, step out of the booth.
Tim: I love it, David. This is awesome. So, go back and review this episode if you have a trade show coming up because I really think that this can help you. David, thank you so much coming on the show.
David: Thank you very much, Tim. [Music]
Listen To Discover David’s Trade Show Strategy That Tripled Leads For A Client At One Show