Exhibitor Excellence Defined #SHRM18

 
 
 
 
The 2018 SHRM Annual Conference will be the 10th straight that I’ve had the pleasure of attending. Perhaps more intriguing is the fact that I’ve participated in this conference as an exhibitor and an attendee alike. 
 
I know the pure joy of working on my feet at an exhibitor booth for 12 hours a day along with the thrill that comes from attending sessions and running from one corner of the conference hall to another as an attendee. The biggest take away…….
 
We are all attending the SHRM Annual Conference for the same reasons:
 
… to Learn, Grow and Thrive!
 
I’ve been in Business Development in the Human Capital Management industry for more than a decade. The biggest revelation as a sales professional came to me at a SHRM Conference a few years into my career. Our CEO handed me his all-access badge and told me I could step away from our booth to attend some programming. 
 
I sat down in a presentation room eager to learn and something amazing happened. The person next to me actually started talking to me. I didn’t have to scan her badge, I didn’t get a dirty look when I introduced myself and there was no need to afford her a stuffed animal in exchange for conversation. 
 
I stopped going to sales training classes. I started attending every HR-related seminar I could. I had tapped into the mindset of the HR Professional and I began to identify with their day-to-day challenges. 
 
They had challenges, I had solutions. 
 
I stopped barking in meetings to prove what our product could do and started asking questions.
 
I put the arrogance assumed of the salesman aside and became a peer to my buyer.
 
My efforts to understand landed me a position on the SHRM Social Media Team six years ago.
 
All of this is a reflection on how exhibitors can maximize their opportunity to win the confidence of HR professionals in the Exhibitor Hall.
 
 
 
Here are a couple simple tips:
 
Don’t exchange swag without conversation     
People will always want a promotional item to bring home to their kids. Best to build their brand advocacy at an early age. If you offer an item in exchange for a little bit of program information and an ask for post-event communication, you’ll know rather to fish or cut bait. Don’t waste your time chasing down people who don’t want to talk to you or have no insight to offer.
 
Everyone is a potential advocate
These days people will view my badge and see: Blogger.
Many “vendors” see my title as insignificant to the implementation of their product and send me off to another booth without an interaction. Every person walking the floor of the Exhibitor Hall has value to lend. You never know, their spouse could be the VP of HR at your most-desired prospect.
Pretend each HR Professional is an old friend
Just because you are an Enterprise Sales Rep doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful conversation with HR Professionals from smaller businesses. Don’t pretend to be too important to engage someone who has come to your office to hear about your solution.

References:

Every Exhibitor should….. 
~ Their content often feeds your solution and you buyers trust their thought leadership
 
Note to HR Professionals:
Remember, vendors are people too…. They are missing their kid’s dance recitals to stand on their feet all day. Extend them the decency of a meaningful conversation.
 
See you all at #SHRM18 !
 
Originally posted on Dave's Weekly Thought blog.
 
 
The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.
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