franchise trade shows
Published April 17, 2017

5 Tips To Help You Close Deals at Franchise Trade Shows

Franchise expos continue to prove to be the #1 approach to engaging and establishing relationships with qualified prospects in the franchise industry. They offer franchisors the opportunity to meet face-to-face with thousands of qualified prospects in one location. And now more than ever, prospective franchisees want, and need, to look someone in the eye and discuss their investment options. They want to feel that connection with a person and a franchise, before they take the next step of buying a franchise brand.

It is not enough to just show up at an expo and expect the attendees to flock to your booth vs. others, and consider your franchise brand. You must be as proactive as possible and utilize every single opportunity that presents itself to engage with attendees, on their terms, in their timeframe. Expos create a captive audience. It is up to YOU to take advantage of this and maximize your investment. Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your trade show experience and come one step closer to closing franchise deals:

Tip #1: Plan ahead – If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!

Franchise trade shows present a unique sales environment, with thousands of attendees already showing an interest in franchising. They provide an opportune time for exhibitors to use all the ammunition possible to showcase their brand above all others and engage with as many prospects as possible.

The most successful exhibitors plan their trade show strategy ahead of time. It is critical that your franchise development team understand the strategic reasons for your presence and the goals and metrics for performance at the specific event.  Whether it is new lead generation, brand building, sampling, re-engaging with previous leads, or networking with other franchisors and suppliers, it is critical to share these with your staff who is working the booth. It may be that you have multiple goals, which is fine, but make sure you clearly communicate these to your sales team and show them how they can succeed. Clearly define everyone’s role and schedule on-site as well as why their performance at the expo is vital to the company’s success.

Reach out to your current prospects, invite them to attend the expo, visit your booth, and ideally meet with you. Be sure to ask your show organizers provide you with complimentary passes for your prospects – it’s a win-win for the event organizer and your company.

Tip #2: Making an impression – The 3-Second Rule

With hundreds of booths, it is important to make sure yours sticks out from the crowd, but how?

Start by operating with the mindset that you have about three seconds to catch the eye of someone who is walking by your booth. Your message is therefore critical. It must be succinct and to the point. Make sure your text is big, and your graphics make sense. Visitors need to know what you do and how you will help them in three seconds or less. Your goal should be to make them stop and look longer at your booth message, allowing your sales team to engage.

Creating a visually appealing booth display is just as important in showcasing your brand and the franchise opportunity. Always be sure to have content pieces to give out to attendees that enable them to dig deeper into researching your franchise opportunity outside of their busy expo schedule.

Tip #3: Proper staffing – How many and what type of people should staff your booth?

A good trade show will deliver a steady stream of traffic. Be sure to have the right people and correct number of them staffing your booth. As a general rule, you should have two to three staff members in the booth at all times.

Understanding the hours and flow of each expo will help you determine how to best staff your booth. Ask yourself “Who is the type of person who is attending. Do you need more technical people? Sales? Marketing? What is the right mix and balance? Having the right quantity and quality of people on your expo team will be essential in determining your ROI. You will likely have to balance your team’s schedules to achieve both your exhibiting and education goals.

Tip #4:  Follow through with prospects. It’s your responsibility, not theirs!

The quality of leads you’ll receive at a franchise expo are second to none. Be sure to immediately address leads you receive. They have clearly indicated their interest in your product/service, yet according to a research report by BPM Forum, over 80 percent of generated leads are never followed up on, are dropped, or are mishandled. A prompt response is critical. Thank them for their interest and confirm their specific interests (as indicated online or in person) so that what you provide them with is contextually relevant and timely for their interests.

As part of the planning and preparation process, communicate with your development team about the process in place to follow-up with leads after the expo. This will ensure that nothing slips through the cracks and all leads are addressed in both a timely and efficient manner.

Tip #5: Pay it forward. 

Want to make a friend with show management? Offer to provide testimonials or, if you have been successful through the show, volunteer to share your experience and be a speaker. Take leadership positions with the show and offer your insight, knowledge, and rolodex to improving the event each year.  Many of the best lead generation opportunities arise from sharing your knowledge, not pitching your brand. Companies often choose to stay one additional day for one-to-one meetings.

Attending a franchise expo is an investment. Be sure to get your ROI by leveraging these tips to take full advantage of the opportunities attending a franchise expo offers your company.

About the Author: Lawrence Dvorchik

Lawrence Dvorchik ([email protected]) is the Vice President of Marketing, Media and Communications at MFV Expositions, the leading organizer of Franchise Expos including Franchise Expo South, the International Franchise Expo and the West Coast Franchise Expo. He has over 25 years of experience helping organizations increase their lead generation programs through face-to-face, digital, mobile, print and other mediums. For more information about MFV Expositions’ franchise expos visit www.mfvexpo.com.
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