As exhibiting opportunities increasingly transition online, marketers are discovering that having the right strategy for chat can be integral to pipeline and lead management. PACK EXPO Connects presents two great opportunities for exhibitors: private one-on-one interactions and live Q&A group discussions during brief (under 15-minute) product demonstrations.
To get the most out of your team’s efforts, consider the following tips:
1-to-1 private conversations
Be available. It may sound obvious, but you can’t interact with visitors if you don’t have someone standing by. Having a schedule of who is “manning” your chat is just as important as ensuring staff presence at a live event. Fortunately, at PACK EXPO Connects, this doesn’t mean sitting by your computer all day. The show has specific hours designated for chat, and exhibitors can even set alerts to notify their team of chat requests so that team members can be doing other things during chat hours.
Plan “conversation starters.” At PACK EXPO Connects, all private chats are initiated by attendees. As such, it’s important for exhibitors to be strategic about the information they feature. You’ll want to strike the right balance between supporting sufficient self-guided research by end users and teasing enough with your content that the visitor feels compelled to engage (and every chat tracks as a lead).
Some ideas to help foster engagement:
Offer up your technical staff. PMMI Media Group research consistently shows one of the top “wants” of end users is access to engineers and other representatives with technical expertise. Use this desire to your advantage by featuring a varied bench of experts to man your chat.
Prime the pump with messaging that encourages visitors to “Ask us about X.” Just as with face-to-face interaction, it can be intimidating for some end users to initiate conversations. By making reference somewhere on your page to the typical questions you hear (“Ask us about our rapid install options” or “Ask us about our experience with printing in harsh environments,”) you’ll provide a subtle cue to visitors that they’re safe bringing up their similar questions or concerns.
Don’t underestimate the power of a giveaway. Encourage visitors to jot you a quick note via chat if they would like to receive some sort of takeaway, such as material samples, a special discount code from the event, or perhaps your latest report on a hot topic.
Humanize your team. Attendees crave real-life connection. One easy way to humanize your team and help foster trust in a virtual environment is to include their photos and encourage links from their virtual business cards to their LinkedIn profiles.
Have a strategy to prioritize inquiries. The platform at PACK EXPO Connects is organized around text chat. However, attendees can request private meetings with exhibitors at any time. Either party can then continue the conversation outside of the event, whether it be a follow-up call by phone or a video meeting on their own preferred platform (Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, MS, etc.).
As an exhibitor, you’ll therefore want to come prepared with open-ended questions to best understand the prospect’s use case and business challenges. Once you understand the prospect’s situation, just like with a live event, you can then assess fit and tailor your pitch accordingly for appropriate level of follow-up.
Coming in with a sense of ideal customer can help you pre-determine what criteria your sales team will use to determine “qualification” for additional meetings, either during or after the event. Marketers also should strategize best ways to convert from one-to-one text chat on the platform to many-to-many video meetings with other members of the buying team on your own channel. Examples could be to tease additional content, offer additional staff members to meet the prospect, encourage sharing of visuals for deeper conversation, etc.
Have a plan for triage. Busy moments are always challenging during events, and this is no different in a virtual setting. Exhibitors should note that nothing indicates “busy” when it comes to chat. Either the exhibitor’s chat button is green to signal the company is present, or no button displays (exhibitor is logged off the system).
Fortunately, navigating between conversations on the PACK EXPO Connects platform is easy: Exhibitors can be engaged with multiple people in separate threads at the same time. And the exhibitor can easily jump between two or more conversations.
Still, some exhibitors may find it helpful to have a plan for how they will triage conversations and politely respond when their team gets delayed by high-traffic moments.
Another opportunity for chat at PACK EXPO Connects occurs with live video demonstrations. Here, exhibitors are given 15 minutes to demonstrate a product and answer questions from observers via public chat. To make the most of this limited time, exhibitors should consider these additional efforts.
Prepare seed questions for Q&A. Don’t waste precious minutes waiting for questions to start coming in or get tripped up with an immediate question that may not be particularly applicable to the group or your product. Instead, come prepared with a couple of strong questions and encourage a colleague to share them. Simply identify your colleague and have them prompt the discussion, which can be as simple as having the colleague type “Scott, why don’t you tell everyone how our infeed works with a wide range of package sizes.” Prospects like seeing team interaction, and it helps the conversation quickly kick off on the right track.
Have a plan for prioritizing viewers’ questions. Once the questions start rolling in, it can feel like a wave! To make the most of the moment, while the presenter is responding to initial inquiries, have a colleague choose and relay the next set of questions.
Tease to continue the discussion. Before wrapping up the chat session, encourage viewers to send their questions directly to you for additional follow up by requesting a private meeting via the link in your showroom or engaging in chat during designated hours. And invite attendees to check out more information, such as product videos or case studies or continue conversations with your technical team. Let them know there is even more information to be had beyond that 15 minute “taste” they just experienced.