Q: My MSP is looking to get our name out there and add new customers to our offering. After being in the break-fix industry for a few years, we know that as an MSP we need to actively look for new clients. We’ve heard that tradeshows might be a good way to get our foot in the door and meet perspective clients. How can my MSP make the most of going to a tradeshow and use it to help my business?
Tradeshow season is upon us, and these types of events are a great way to network with other IT service providers and meet vendors face-to-face. Plus, depending on what type of tradeshow you attend, you can also meet new prospects. Tradeshows hold a lot of value for your MSP business, and they can help develop and sharpen your skillset as well.
To help you get the most out your tradeshow experience, we talked to Erin Shaw Crowley who is the event marketing manager at Intronis MSP Solutions. Erin is a tradeshow pro. After planning and attending more than a hundred conferences and events, Erin has them down to a science, but she still comes away from each one learning something new. Here is Erin’s advice on how to get the most out of a tradeshow as an MSP.
Maximize your tradeshow experience
Tradeshows move quickly, and within the span of two or three days you can walk away with a new perspective, a new product to try, and a whole new network. Maximizing your time at tradeshows is something even tradeshow connoisseurs try to do. Here are five best practices to help you leave feeling accomplished:
Pick the right event. Research the event you have in mind before you decide to attend. The best way to pick a tradeshow is to look for something that is in the vertical and area in which your MSP focuses. If your MSP specializes in delivering services to healthcare companies, attend a tradeshow that’s centered on that idea. This helps put your business on the right track for growth.
It’s also important to know which events you shouldn’t attend. For example, if you love your PSA or RMM tool, don’t go to a tradeshow about a competitive tool. If you have no intention of changing and aren’t open-minded about it, what’s the point? You’ll just be wasting your time. Make your time count and attend something that focuses on your target segment, your goals, or your industry connections.
Stuck on where to start? CRN has a great calendar filled with channel events that they continually update. Also, see where your vendors are going. This will give you the opportunity to have face-to-face time with them, see what new products they have, and even reinforce why you selected their services in the first place.
Check the agenda. Try to pick an event that you think will be most beneficial to you. Events can be a great time to examine what you’re doing in-house and see what areas you can improve. Most tradeshows try to post an agenda early on to attract attendees. Check this out on the website to make sure there are sessions or speakers you’re interested in. Your goal should be to walk away with lessons you’ve learned that you can use to either improve operations or elevate your company. Do a few of the break-out sessions sound interesting? Are any of your vendors going to be there? If you just go through the motions and aren’t particularly interested or open to learning something at this event, consider other options.
Plan your priorities. Think about the key takeaways you want to get from the event. Are you looking for new business strategies to help your team be more productive? Tradeshows are an opportunity to talk to vendors about products, give feedback to help enhance their products, and open your eyes to what else might be out there.
One thing that has helped me in the past is printing out the agenda a few days before the event and highlighting the top things I want to do. I decide which breakout sessions I want to go to and even add event reminders in my phone about certain speakers. Breakout sessions are always surprising, and you’ll often hear ideas that you haven’t considered before. It allows you to take a step back and look at the broader picture.
Take a break from your phone. When you arrive at the tradeshow, try to distance yourself from your phone a little. Although it may be tempting to tap into your email and find out what’s happening at the office, try to disconnect. Instead, focus on why you’re there and what you plan on doing with your day.
Putting down your phone will also give you a chance to talk to other attendees. Don’t be afraid to take part in conversations—even if they’re with a competitor. They might have some good ideas that can change the way you do business. If you’re having problems with specific products or customers, you’re not alone—someone else is probably in the same boat. In fact tradeshows are a good way to get help overcoming challenges. The competitor next to you might give you advice that will help you grow your company! So, don’t be afraid to open up with your personal experiences and ask questions.
If you’re newer to the MSP business, don’t be afraid to share your ideas and opinions. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to your opinion. Get involved and ask other providers what they do versus what you do. Most importantly, it can open your eyes to how your company can do something differently.
If you’re attending your first tradeshow, enjoy the experience. It may seem overwhelming with so many activities and different things going on for two or three days—so take a few steps back and soak in as much as possible!
Photo Credit: Neal Bradbury
Ask Intronis is a weekly advice column answering common questions from MSPs and IT service providers. It covers topics ranging from pricing and selling to marketing and communications—and everything in between. Submit your questions by emailing AskIntronis@intronis.com.