I’ve traveled to Las Vegas more times than I can remember. Earlier this year, for example, I renewed my relationship with Sin City for The Rental Show and World of Concrete, both of which target the construction industry. As always, these shows were incredibly packed, full of energy, excitement and opportunity.
Working the B2B trade show circuit as a business development professional can be a highly rewarding experience toward cultivating relationships and developing leads, even if you aren’t formally exhibiting. Peddling in Las Vegas, however, is unlike no other destination. Consider these (lucky) 7 tips when selling in the desert (without a booth) to maximize your effort:
- Get your mind right – Repeat after me: We are here to work; we are not here to play. There are arguably more distractions in Vegas than in any other city in the nation. Stay focused. Remember why you made the trip.
- Schedule appointments – A no-brainer. Weeks and days before the show, review the exposition’s website and the list of possible exhibitors. Match those names with those on your target list and see if you can carve some time to speak before things get really crazy. Your prospects will appreciate the gesture, too.
- Never eat alone (credit to author Keith Ferrazzi) – With a distance of 4.2 miles from point-to-point, the Las Vegas strip is an incredibly dense area for business travelers. Use this to your advantage by networking everywhere. Bars, restaurants, elevators, etc. Strike up a conversation and see where things end up. The odds are in your favor.
- Optimize your route – The Las Vegas Convention Center is one of the largest convention centers in the world. Thus, you’ll need to develop an attack plan to navigate from booth to booth efficiently. If your schedule is flexible, consider a two-day approach. On day one, “scout” the show and note the booths you wish to visit. Enter this information into Microsoft Excel, and sort by booth number and hall (north, central, south). When complete, you’ll have an optimal plan to make the most of your time on day two -- your “selling” day.
- Do your research – On “scouting” day, review your prospect’s website (particularly the news section) to stay current and knowledgeable of their world. An informed salesperson is a great salesperson. Makes for a great conversation starter, as well.
- Leverage after hours – As you might expect, most meeting places in Las Vegas are open very late, even on weekdays. What’s more, it’s been my experience that most people expect to stay up late while visiting. This expectation provides another opportunity. After having dinner with a prospect at 7 or 8pm, consider scheduling drinks with another one several hours later (The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan is a personal favorite -- ask for a "Szechuan flower" with your cocktail; trust me). Or an early breakfast, perhaps? Your attempts may prove more successful than you’d otherwise think.
- Hone your elevator speech – A classic business rule in general, yet especially true in the B2B trade show world. You might have ten seconds to impress your customer after meeting them at the booth. Remember, they’re at the show to sell, not to be sold to. Therefore, make sure you can simply and clearly state who you are and what you do as quickly as possible. Why not practice in your hotel room the night before?
Vegas is an incredible (and exhausting) place to do business. With these 7
guidelines, tip the scales in your favor, bet big, and bring down the house…
along with a lot of leads in your pocket.