Now I’m not always current on the latest pop (for me, the zenith of pop music was in the 70s, and everything’s been downhill since then), but I can hum Carly Rae Jepsen’s hit song Call Me Maybe. And, with the annual social rite of going to shared services and outsourcing conferences just about underway, I think its refrain is a great anthem. Conjure up a vision of eager beavers passing out rubber duckies, pens, chocolates and business cards in every exhibit hall, and you’ll look at the lyrics in a new light:
“Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here’s my number,
So call me, maybe?”
Seriously, I wonder if providers really think that they’ll dig up the next big deal just by forking over the price of a booth at a conference. Now I’ d be the first to say that conferences play a role in the marketing eco-system; after all, they are efficient places to meet people, and having a logo prominently positioned on banners, booths and brochures is a good form of branding. Seeing what the competition is pushing, learning a thing or two in sessions, and meeting colleagues, often for the first time, is pretty important stuff.
But when provider sales guys and gals think that they’ll make this year’s numbers merely by handing out business cards in the exhibit hall or cornering someone at the reception, they are sadly mistaken. Most people politely accept business cards, and promptly put them in their purses/briefcases/computer pockets to be pulled out when a), they are cleaning out said bags; b) putting together their mailing lists; c), looking for their next job; d), forged a personal bond with the individual tendering the piece of cardboard; or e), have a real sourcing opportunity for which developing a list of providers is in order.
What does deliver results? Smart providers position conference attendance as part of an overall lead generation strategy. Being able to look someone in the eye is far more powerful than being on the other end of a phone in a dialing for dollars exercise. Having the opportunity to test sales messages face-to-face is highly beneficial. Being able to start a relationship in a person-to-person setting is invaluable.
But expecting to hand out business cards to perfect strangers and get a response? Highly doubtful. “Here’s my number, call me maybe” is not a sales strategy.