So we talked what to do before the exhibition and now is time to learn what to do During the exhibition:
During the exhibition
It was not hard to see that sitting behind the stand is not working. So ‘Be proactive, don’t hide behind and complain that nothing happens’. Our strategy was simple:
- Arrive on the fair about 10:00
- While approaching our stand split and talk to people (11:30)
- One is on the stand, doing online research and often going to the near stands and talking to people. The other one is going to the nearby halls and generating leads.
- Gather for lunch
- Switch – one is on the stand and approaching the nearby stands, the other one is going
Good that we were two people so we were able to split and cover a wider area.
Approaching potential clients
Couple of things to do:
- Read carefully the banners. Search for keywords you can use in the following conversation
- While approaching the stand pretend that you are important. Don’t look around and look like you are searching for something you don’t know. Write something on a business card or notebook. Look for eye contact and smile.
- Start with a question “What do you do?”. Listen carefully, nod your head and ask short, relevant questions. Hook when you see a point of potential collaboration.
- When it is your turn to present yourself start with something important: list of clients, products you develop. Starting with the German clients on German IT fair is very good idea.
- Ask for partnership, reselling, integration rather than trying to sell consultants
- Take a business card (preferably with a telephone number on it) and after the meeting write the important keywords on it. Give yours as you give a piece of gold.
Types of companies on the fair
- ERP/CRM – Very conservative companies. We tried to sell Java EE services (most of them are using Java) but good conversation is hard to be started.
- Qlikview – Their projects are very small, about 2 months for development, and they didn’t want to hear anything about non-German consultants for their projects
- Opensource – Very nice guys and open for collaboration and new ideas and ventures. The problem here is that they have more enthusiasm than business thinking
- Startups – Like the open source guys but too young to do business with them
- Government – Most of the companies providing IT services for governments use Java EE and open source. They don’t know what is outsourcing, they don’t speak English very well and no Indians go there to sell outsourcing. We’ve managed to walk with a couple of them and made a good impression. Next time we’ll go with someone german speaking.
- Indians – They are ready to meet with everyone, even with the fair support staff
- Germans – Hard to talk with them. ‘Made in Germany’ means a lot to them and they are not very open for collaboration with companies that don’t speak German language
- UKs – Our favourites. Innovation and profit oriented, we speak their language and we can make them laugh.
- Brasil – I lived in Brazil for a year where I got to know Portuguese and their culture. This made very easy to enter the Brazilian stand and to make 10 connections.
- Oracle – Their stand was very poor on the CeBIT 2014 exhibition. Only one Exadata server and no big events and banners. Microsoft, SAP, etc were huge compared to that.
Conferences are a great way to get a good lead. Talking randomly with people going to a conference and ask relevant questions is the same as Outbound vs Inbound marketing. You know and talk with the right people and you make a good impression by talking the same language with them.
In terms of outsourcing destinations Poland was presented in the best way. They are very close, a little bit more expensive than Bulgaria, they know German and had banners everywhere.
India and near countries were competing on price with huge banners calling 5 EUR hour rate for software development service. We were joking that they should start selling gifts with 100 development hours.
Belarus and Ukraine. A little bit cheaper than Bulgaria and with good service quality.
- Wednesday was the most loaded in terms of meetings. We were about to leave earlier on Friday, but we did meetings with potential clients till 19:00.
- Go to after-fair parties. Full with beer and you can establish a really good connection.
- Do exercises in the morning and eat fresh, healthy food. You’ll need a lot of energy and you need to be in good condition when working so intensively.
- Organize yourself. Write everything down ASAP or you’ll forget it.
Most of the people forget about your minutes after your meeting. For the important leads – contact the important leads ASAP. At least establish a LinkedIn connection.
Write follow up emails, remind 2-3 times then make a phone call if nobody answers.
We collected 100 business cards with opportunities for collaboration. We did more than 200 meetings. Wrote 50 cold calling letters. In my opinion, we were top performers on the exhibition. Now it is a matter of follow-up the leads to get the projects we want.
If you have any questions about our tips leave them in the comment section below. Can you share with us some of your ways to promote on IT Fairs?