Friday, December 18, 2009

Selling the Intangible; "tribal knowledge" for the jungle out there

OK, so the world of Tradeshow Marketing is taking yet another hit. We know, we know. After all, this is nothing new. We experienced a valley during the economic recession of the 1980’s (remember the original “sellers market”?). Though the industry rebounded strong, the events of September 11 yet again reduced the industry to a level less than 30% of its economic impact pre 9-11 (according to CEIR). However, like before, the ever perseverant industry of meeting planners and event organizers found a way to rebound, of course after experiencing yet another purging, eliminating numerous over-inflated markets and unnecessary events.

Today, the uncertainty of the economy has not helped sales efforts from an industry already struggling to show value of the intangible sale. When faced with a slowing / receding economy, the business sector slices budgets in 4 primary areas: Business Marketing, Inventory and Supply Chain Management, Employee Training, and travel. My friends, these are what tradeshows are all about. Our customers exhibit in our shows to market their products and/or services in a face-to-face setting to their potential clients. Our attendees meet with exhibitors to purchase goods and services for their inventories. The majority of attendees register to receive training; to sharpen the saw, and achieve additional credentials. On average, over 70% of event attendees must travel to attend the events. In result, attendance of buyers at our events is down.

All of these forces simply make it tougher to close the intangible sale. Buyers are uncertain of the ROI they have come to expect, and are now uncertain if an event can truly produce a solution to their pain of slowing sales and declining business opportunities. Sales managers throughout the industry are continuously challenged with how to create greater ROI for their customers; how to further demonstrate to their customers that the products and services they offer are truly the solution to their customer’s needs.

I recently read a newsletter produced by Wat Tyler, VP of Sales for SAVO Sales Enablement Solutions. The article deals with what he terms “Tribal Knowledge”. In a nutshell, it simply enforces and embodies the concepts of solution selling, and the use of proper tools to ensure your sales efforts are on target with your customers and market and eliminating waste most commonly dumped on clients by the average sales executive. It is a great read, providing simple insight to how utilizing the right tools can produce the desired results; the solution-oriented sales process vs. a product / feature sales process. Here is a link to the article: