It’s time for an update on my How to win my business (a memo from your client) blog post from a while back.
What’s prompting the update? A recent interview of the mysterious @Angry_MR_Client over at Green Book Blog and subsequent discussion in the comments section. If you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend it! The interview and discussion highlighted for me yet again the need for continued healthy dialogue between research suppliers and clients.
My previous blog post focused on online or telephone interaction with potential suppliers or clients, but I feel it’s important to update that here to highlight the importance of face-to-face interactions.
Let me say right off the bat that yes I’m definitely biased towards face-to-face interaction as I work for a company that among other things produces events. So, don't take this as the voice for the whole client side of the industry, but the opinion of one client-side researcher.
As is the case with most client-side researchers, we have our roster of go-to vendors for different types of projects. However, it’s often the case that we need to deviate from our standard roster when a unique project comes up that our current suppliers may not have expertise in.
And that’s when the options can become overwhelming! From printed and online directories to many many sales emails… In that moment of decision, what do I wish for? A personal connection and face-to-face discussion.
That's why it's important to me to attend at least one market research live event a year, preferably an event with a good number of suppliers exhibiting. Why? So I can relate a face to the company, so I can see a demo of your software in person, so I can see how you and your staff interact with other client-side researchers, so I can see how passionate (if at all) you are about your company’s service or product.
You can see why meeting suppliers at an event is important to me. Now for some compelling stats on why it should also be important to suppliers as well, thanks to the Center for Exhibition Research (CEIR):
-According to research by CEIR and Exhibit Surveys, Inc. closing a lead generated at an event costs almost 40 percent less than a lead generated from the field.
-76% of attendees pre-plan the exhibits they want to visit. So, suppliers, you DO need to do some legwork pre-event to reach out to your key audience letting them know you’ll be there.
-This one’s the kicker for me. A CEIR study found that 79% (!!) of leads are not followed up on. So have a follow-up system in place and a plan of action after the event.
I do realize that funding for exhibiting or even travel to some of the major events is sometimes not possible. But another way to establish face-to-face contact is letting us know when you’ll be in the area visiting clients and have a few extra hours. More often than not, we're willing to do lunch. (Shout out for lunch the Portland, Maine area – we have lobster mac and cheese…with truffles!)
Is a face-to-face connection going to guarantee you win my business? No, but establishing that face-to-face connection does help move your company up on my “to contact” list and separates you from random, faceless directory listings when projects come up!