Even if you feel exhausted after travelling to Germany and spending one week at a trade fair, now is not a good time to sit idle or even go on a holiday. Sorry for the bad news, but please still enjoy if you have planned for some days off right now.
Ideally, you have blocked enough time in your calendar to follow up with the people you met at the show.
Follow up with your Leads and make References to what you Discussed
As an exhibitor, hopefully, you remember where you have put your completed lead registration forms and visitors’ business cards—or whatever tools you use to track your contacts. Write to each person individually and make references to what you have discussed during the fair.
You can write for example:
Dear Ms. Schmidt,
It was great meeting you at your booth at sps ipc drives last week. It was good to learn about your hardware requirements for your xyz project…
Dear Mr. Schneider,
Thank you again for your time at EXPO REAL last week. I hope you and your wife managed to reach your flight to Miami in time. Please find attached the business plan for xyz, as I had promised you…
Alternatively, if the conversation was a bit more casual and you were using first names:
I am so glad we could finally meet at electronica. I spoke to my team and we are ready to schedule a skype call to discuss how we can assist you in xyz…
(if your keyboard doesn’t offer “ö”, type “oe”); or you can write
I am so glad you could visit us during embedded world. When would you like to schedule a short follow-up call?
Even if you are the one in power / spending money, always keep in mind: formal and polite communication will help you build a rapport with your (German) target audience.
If people enjoy communicating with you, they are more likely to go the extra mile. If demand is higher than supply, being agreeable and reliable will help you tap and nurture sources.
Never, ever spoil the momentum you have built by just writing: “Dear Sirs, we met at bauma last week. Please find attached our product catalogue; I am looking forward to your order.”
Chart out the next Steps and Suggest a Timeline
Tell your contact how you would like to proceed. If your visitor has asked you for an online demonstration for themselves and their team, very briefly summarise how the product will make their lives easier, so that they can easily sell the idea to their colleagues. Be specific about what you would like to demonstrate, and how long the virtual meeting will take.
Giving deadlines can help speed up the process. Be specific, but not overly pressing. You could, for example, say: “Calendar week 50, I will be on leave, but if it is convenient for you, maybe we manage to do the demo before that?” Or: “There is already a small backlog of orders, but if you order by Friday, chances are good you will receive the parts before Christmas.” By the way, talking about Christmas holidays in 2018…please do not expect to reach many people in German offices after Friday, December 21st.
If your contact tells you that he or she will need some more time, ask them when you can expect to hear back from them. Make a note in your calendar and actively ask about the status if you do not hear from them.
Show Interest, but don’t be (Perceived as) Pushy
Germans are not exactly famous for making quick decisions. Very often, they are interested in identifying a second source, but will only buy from you (for the first time) when their current supplier lets them down. Germans are rather risk-averse and consider each and every decision very carefully. Do not expect them to act spontaneously or “just try something out”. You need a lot of staying power if you want to gain a presence in the market.
Even if they do not buy from you now, keep in touch and try to meet them at the next fair or during a business trip. Invite them to your offices, write a Christmas card, ask them if they want to receive your newsletter, and keep them updated about new products and special offers; but under no circumstances, spam their inbox by repeatedly sending your follow-up mails.
“After the Show is Before the Show”
Famous German football-trainer Sepp Herberger (1897–1977) is often quoted saying: “Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel” (After the game is before the game). Don’t rest on your laurels after a good fair; stay alert and focus on the next round. If you were not able to score this time, maybe next time you’ll succeed. And don’t forget; some things just take their time.
If you need help with following up with our German leads, you can always get in touch with me (andra[at]andra-ibf.com).
2. Join my LinkedIn Group Doing Business in Germany: Trade Fairs, Events, FAQ and Best Practices
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