Let the Cold Calls Begin

A big industry trade show is just a few weeks away, and I’ve been getting cold calls all over the place for a myriad of different services and products. We always talk about the latest thing, but I’ve found that some sales tactics are tried and true.

The direct and authoritative route. One sales person called me with such an authoritative voice, I almost thought he was with the official show staff. He quickly told me his name and company and immediately asked for the dimensions and weight of my shipment. I barely had time to process that this gentlemen was about to sell me shipping services! I’m open to quotes for our booth shipment, so I after explaining that I’d be open to some information about his company, I gave him my email address. This route is pretty abrasive to me, so I don’t recommend it in most situations. But for cold calling? Be direct, be the authority, and make them hear you in the first 10 seconds… before they hang up!

The price route. Most of the vendors use this approach, opening with something along the lines of, “Ashley, I’m sure you would love to save money on shipping your booth. I’ve been able to save my customers $x dollars, why don’t I send you some information about how we can meet your needs cheaper!” This route seems to stand the test of time, because who doesn’t want to save money? The problem is that my in-house shipping crew runs tons of packages through two regular providers. Thus, they get a special discount, which is passed on to my shipment when the time comes. Most of the people calling only handle booth shipments, but we don’t ship our booth often enough to receive the prime rates from these companies. Again, I give them my email address for quote information, but most of the time, it’s a bust.

The “different, unique, quirky, unexpected” route. This tactic is a staple in a lot of industries, particularly at trade show booths. All of these vendors are calling to say that their unexpected talent will woo attendees to my booth. This is, undoubtedly, true. Last year’s conference featured a spin-the-wheel carnival game at one booth, a trapeze routine (yes, girls hanging from the ceiling!) at another booth, and a chair massage at another booth. Essentially, EVERYONE has something “unique” going on at their booth. The problem is that at a show of this size, most of the people who come to watch the show aren’t actually decent customers. My company deals with engine maintenance for planes, so while I’d love to go see the caricature artist at the interior upholstery booth, the fact of the matter is that I have absolutely no need for their services. They can try to engage me as I’m getting my portrait, but they’ll quickly find that I’m not worth their time. I think quirky attractions have their place when all attendees need all the services displayed, but generally, I feel that most shows are too big to benefit from this type of gimmick. As a marketer, I think your message, brand, and product should speak loudly enough, without a fake teaser!

It’s been interesting to receive the first round of calls, and I’m sure there will be many more to come. It makes me glad I’m not in sales, as I’ve yet to take advantage of any of the “deals” these reps are offering!

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