Trade Shows and Connecting With Your Buyer

There are plenty of reasons to go to a trade show; they are busy events full of opportunity to sell more product and build relationships. Companies use shows as a way to connect with potential customers, get teams together, celebrate success, build team relationships, and spy on competitors!

Shows are an expensive exercise, but ultimately are a tool which can be used to benefit your business. To make sure you get maximum return on investment it is crucial to leave a lasting impression on your major retail partners when they walk into your booth.

Once a buyer engages with you on your stand and the small talk is over, most suppliers start showing off their new product with the hope of getting it listed at a later date. That can be a mistake. Over the duration of a trade show, a buyer might connect with 100 current suppliers and meet 50 new ones, so what are the chances of your product being remembered? At best your chance is 1 in 150, and at worst you meet with your buyer at the start of the day and by the time they are back at their hotel you are forgotten.

There are potentially better ways of engaging with your buyer during trade shows. The aim of every engagement should be to position yourself as an expert that your retailer can come to for advice. This means when your buyer gets back to their office and goes through their plans for the year, you stick out because you provided them with a solution — not just another product to fill space on the shelf. Having that conversation in a limited amount of time is difficult, so we’ve put together a list of information to prepare in advance to make your buyer conversation powerful and memorable.

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Make sure you have the below information on hand ready to show your buyer. Ultimately you want to be able to answer these three key questions.

What happened last year?

    • Provide a list with compelling graphics and relevant data of your top selling products last year within their stores. Graphically illustrate the growth versus the previous year. Show them what the stock levels are currently and if there is anything running low, or anything that is overstocked.
    • Show them the top performing states. Which state increased the most in sales dollars? What is your top performing state? Is that the same state as last year? Ask them if that region/state/zone is normal for their department, or if you are an outlier.
    • Show them the top performing stores. Compare online versus brick and mortar sales.
    • Show them overstocks and poor performing items. Demonstrate that you are aware of these issues, and willing to help address them.

Why did that happen?

  • Do some analysis on why certain products sold or didn’t sell. Was there an earlier summer, or a mild winter? Was there an out of stock issue on their end?
  • Was there a color or style that sold well and another that didn’t?
  • What can that tell you about next year’s strategy?
  • Use this to tell a story about your product and where it fits into the story of their store.

What are we going to do in the future?

This is where you can demonstrate your products and bring in your own expertise.

  • Show the buyer what didn’t work last year and let them know that you are keeping an eye on it.
  • Offer a solution and make the solution constructive. For example, “If I help you with mark-downs on this product, can you use that free capital to implement our new product line, which we believe will add incremental sales to your business?” This way you introduce a new product and present a solution to a business issue at the same time.

Trade shows are a good time to introduce new products, but it has to be done strategically while showing that you are able to deliver. Presenting a strong business case for your current line of product and demonstrating how new products fit into a larger vision will place you ahead of your competition.

For this to work you need a strong understanding of the numbers behind your product and robust data to work with. Krunchbox allows you to analyze your retail point of sale data and improve your conversations with buyers. Set up a demo with us to see how we can help.