Vendor events can be a fabulous way to find new customers and even better new hostesses and new team members. The key is to work the events well so they are worth your time and effort. Below are ten tips to find success at vendor events to boost your confidence and stay focused on your event goals.
This article was published in collaboration with Ja Thoms. She is the owner/founder of Leading Socially, a store owner on Direct Creatives. She’s helping direct sellers navigate their journey with confidence and grace. Follow her on Facebook for more tips.
10 Tips to Find Success at Vendor Events
Know why you are there
Set a goal before you even walk in the door. What are you looking for – new team members, bookings, sales, leads? Keep in mind that if you make a sale and you earn 25% commission, on fifty dollars, that’s $12. If you book a party, where you then sell $500, 25% equals $125. If you get a new team member, the possibilities are endless. Determine what is going to make it worthwhile for you, because you get what you focus on! Chances are you paid a fee of some sort to be in the event, so you want to be sure you consider that when setting your goals.
It becomes difficult to do quality follow-up if you work too many events, so it’s essential to pick the events you will attend strategically. Be sure it’s a reasonable price. Before committing to an event, I like to find out key pieces of information from the organizer:
- How many years have they been hosting the event?
- What is the advertising strategy?
- How many guests/attendees are expected?
- The number of vendors and if they allow duplicates.
Having the information I’ve listed above will help shape your strategy and identify if the event is worth your time and money.
Put yourself out there
This is one of the most critical tips to find success at vendor events. Make yourself accessible and friendly by standing in front of the table and smiling! If you are going to the event to stand (or even worse sit) behind a table, don’t bother going. Greet people as they pass your booth and invite them to look. A great opening line is “Have you seen what’s new at (your company)?”
Don’t take everything
Not only do you increase your setup and take down time, but having too much inventory can overwhelm customers and passersby. Your space needs to look inviting and organized, not cluttered. Take a few best-sellers or the new hot product. Then invite them to host a party to see everything else.
Get contact information
Have a way for people to leave their contact information. At minimum, you want their name, phone number, and email address. You need to be able to follow up, as most people will not decide while standing at your booth. I try to have both a written slip and a QR code leading to a short survey. If you have an older crowd, the QR code is more difficult for them so have a backup plan! Need a survey template to get started? I’ve got you covered! Grab it for free here!
Be sure to take time before the event opens or during a slow time to introduce yourself to the other vendors. Be friendly! I’ve been to a slow event where the other vendors alone made it worth my while. Getting to know other vendors allows you to expand your business network and meet people outside of your company. These new contacts can refer people to you and vice versa. Of all the tips to find success at vendor events, this one could prove most valuable in your overall business strategy.
As visitors fill out their information, I’m talking the entire time, ask questions and learn information about them. As they leave, I either turn over their contact sheet and scribble any important notes there or typing in the Notes app on my phone. Here are some of the things I note about each customer:
- What product caught their eye
- If they were interested in hosting a party
- Did they comment on needing holiday gifts
- Who were they with
- How many kids they had
- Work outside of the home
- Anything that will get a conversation rolling later when I follow up
Rate your contacts
If you’re working at a large event where you get a lot of leads, this becomes more important. I make a note of an A, B, C beside their name. A is someone very interested, and I think will book a show, join, or place an order with a follow-up. B is likely to follow through. C showed some interest but I’m not sure they will follow through. Rating your contacts will help you prioritize who you should follow up with first.
Don’t bother to go to the event if you don’t have a follow-up plan in place. This is the most important part of a vendor show! There are times when all you leave with from a vendor event is contacts but no sales. Don’t let that get you down! With a solid strategy around gathering customer contact information and a follow-up plan, the vendor event can still prove to be a success.
Make a plan for the few days following an event. Sort your contacts by letter assigned and follow up. Everyone should receive at least one contact 2-3 days after the event. Thank them for stopping by and let them know you are happy to help. I like to include a picture of me standing at my table so they can connect my face with the event.
Keep following up with your contacts. If they were interested in a party, but this is not a good time, ask if you can check back in later, perhaps in a few months, or in the fall for Holiday gifts. I’ve followed leads from a vendor show for up to a year before they booked. Follow-up is the long game. It keeps your pipeline full so at the end of every month when you need that extra little push, you’ve got a nice batch of warm leads you can follow up with.
Vendor shows are a great way to gather new leads and grow your business. If you really work them, they can bring great things. In the past, I earned an incentive trip because of one vendor event that I worked well. At the end of the year, I could track more than half of my personal volume and several team members back to that one event. Are events worth it? They absolutely can be! Having a goal, knowing your numbers, and having an effective strategy for gathering information and follow-up will ensure you see success at your next vendor event.