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How to Score a Big Client at the International Franchise Convention

Right place, right time, right conversation and the right introduction can help you secure the client everyone will be impressed with. Here are some tips to help set up a future deal.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSORED 4:16PM 01/26/17

Snagging a big client at a convention should be easier than you think. It’s not the size of your party or the creativeness in your marketing that will jumpstart a conversation with your next whale of a client. Simply put, it is timing.

Right place, right time, right conversation, right introduction can help you secure the client everyone will be impressed with. If you come to a convention ready to win, chances are, you will actually win. Don’t look at a conference for closing the deal, use them as the set-up for a future deal.

Here are some tips to getting into the conversation.

First Impressions

Dress to impress or dress to take notice: Our team takes two approaches to conventions: Branded logo wear and suited up. Both can work, as long as the full package is consistent and presentable. If you’re wearing a logo shirt, wear a power color (dark black, dark blue). If you’re wearing a suit, wear a power suit (one that shows you are here for business).

You have to meet this person: That is the single best way to jumpstart a conversation with a prospective client – getting an existing client or industry friend to vouch for you. New prospect’s guards are already heightened thanks to the hundreds of direct mail pieces they received encouraging them to win an iPad by stopping by a booth. Leverage your network to find new prospective buyers.

Nail that elevator speech: Tell me about your company. When directed with that statement, you better have something that isn’t too salesy yet informative ready to respond with. It’s not that easy. People’s attention spans are short. You have to simplify your messages (before the conference) to be mainstream. Know your audience and practice your speech. It will go a long way in first impressions

Don’t use alternative facts: There are suppliers in this tiny world of franchising who like to use alternative facts when beating down the competition (like suggesting is a credible Website traffic source, when the site is now out of business). Stick to the facts. If you offer a superior product, talk about that, not lies about your competitors.

Continuing the Conversation

Client blocked: It’s the first night of the conference. You are introduced to someone while wearing your power suit. Your elevator speech goes perfectly. They are into you. You are pumped about them. And then, your competition swoops in. Not only do they put you down (which you should never do), they invite the prospect to the “exclusive” event. Now, your prospect is theirs. Don’t get lost in just one prospect. Go for a bunch. You can’t win them all and if you put all of your attention on fighting for that one prospect, you will miss out on many other conversations. In that initial conversation, hold court and then leave. Move onto the next conversation as quickly as possible. More irons in the fire give you a better chance at winning the client acquisition game.

I’ve got big balls: As noted above, this should not be a who’s bigger game. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more service. Stay on point. Don’t diss the competition, even if they deserve it or they are slapping you in your face. Responding or justifying will make you seem weak. Usually, the one with the biggest balls of them all doesn’t tell the world that they have the best product out there.

Don’t seem too desperate: Obviously, you are at the convention to win. That’s a given. But, don’t be desperate. Make sure you come across as cool and collected. Act as if the relationship would be meaningful for both sides but not the be-all-end-all win for turning your company into a powerhouse. Be confident in what you have to offer.

@ Night

Shots, shots, shots, shots: Very early in my career, shots would come and I would fire back. After a few, though, I knew my decision making and poise were compromised. Thus, I stopped doing shots – and limited the amount I drank. No one will (or should) hire you based on your ability to drink. If they do, they are hiring you for the wrong reasons. Stay ahead of the game and don’t act a fool.

Nothing good happens after midnight: When I started our company, I put this rule in place. Set a midnight curfew, at the latest, to ensure everyone is fresh for the next day and to limit any liability that could come from a night of too much partying. The next client you signed after midnight may end your marriage.

Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn: To ensure separation from party and presentation, our team stays at other hotels at most conferences. This keeps our unit together and doesn’t allow any of the above two rules to get out of line.

As an agency and as a publication, 2016 was our best year for new business. By following the above tips, we were able to intercept ready-to-buy brands and connect with first-step-into-communication brands by being present. No one wins the game being on the sidelines and we took the above aggressive, yet strategic, approach to winning in 2016. In 2017, we are leveraging data from 2016 to disperse our marketing funds properly – target those where they want to be targeted. If you have a great product to sell, great leadership, great opportunities, and great ideas and can show a great ROI to your potential client, you have the foundation to win. Now, it’s all about getting out there and telling your story to those willing to listen.