By Jamie Bultemeier - Corporate Sales Director
As the winter professional meeting and trade show season is in full swing, I am constantly thinking about the value of the time and expense versus the return from these events.
Over my 20 plus years in the industry the impact and focus of industry trade shows has changed, and conversations are different. The existing customers are still wanting to discuss current topics, however the time window of the current topics has narrowed. Today customers are not waiting the next trade show to discuss a topic. Usually they are calling, emailing, or texting within a few minutes to a few days of when the thought arose. The business growth conversations are more in depth and private today that does not lend itself to a public conversation at a trade show. The prospective customer looking for a product or service has been replaced with individuals searching for ideas and options, or information in addition to what they have discovered in an internet search. Again, that window has become narrower as the client or potential client is likely to call, email, or text long before the next trade show. The conversations at the events are becoming more personal, and philosophical, which leads to a much deeper understanding of our customers and industry partners.
Information is flowing at a much faster rate. So why incur the expense and commit the time to these activities as a business? The Covid pandemic has taught all of us that personal contact and communication is difficult at best to assign a value to. Yes, virtual events and internet searches are a great way to transfer and receive basic information quickly, but it loses the focus, concentration, and collaboration that meeting in person brings. The key aspect non-verbal communication is lost by not meeting in person. Many of the conversations had at these meetings may never take place if not facilitated by the event being attended.
The dynamics of these events has changed. We may not leave the event with as many direct sales leads as we did in the past, but we leave with an expanded and better developed network of contacts that is constantly growing and will lead to the sales growth if nurtured. Agriculture is still very much a relationship-based industry. If we recognize the changes in these events over time and modify our approach to them, the sales will come, they will just take a slightly different route to materialize.