Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Generating leads at a scientific conference

A friend of mine recently complained that her company was upset with her because she didn't generate enough leads at a major scientific conference held here in San Diego.  Her company had spent "10s of thousands of dollars" for a large booth display, print materials, and travel expenses. She's pretty outgoing and is an experienced saleswoman, so I don't believe it was she was shy or not good at her job. 

So why the lack of leads?

Do scientists at the meeting not need her products?

Was her rival giving away more ipods? Better gift bags?

In short her answer was no, as far as she knew their house was in order.

So, I asked what she did at the conference. The displays were setup along side the scientific poster presentations as usual and she talked with scientists that walked by or into the booth just like all the other sales staff for hundreds of other companies.  RED FLAG!

Scientists for the most part are extremely shy and guarded.  Sure there are outgoing ones that stand out in your mind, who ask questions and engage salespeople.  Those are the ones that know what they want!  Its the shy ones, the scientists at their first conference, nervous about presenting their work, speaking in English, speaking intelligently, worried about finding a postdoc position, or THEIR BROKEN EXPERIMENTS that you want to engage.

The question is how?  They are not the type to waltz into your booth or come to your cocktail hour (if so they are the one in corner sipping a coke). 

My answer as always is HELP THEM!  Seek them out, leave the friendly confines of your booth and you will start to see them all over the conference.  Many of them came to the conference alone from all over the globe.  They need you and you need them. 

I'll save my actual suggestions for my friend for another day, she's trying them out at her next big conference.

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