If you have taken a look at our previous two blog posts about mobile roadshows, you might be forgiven for thinking, “Wait, isn’t this just a dressed up version of field sales?” In fact, there are some similarities between the two. Both strategies involve sales reps visiting clients on their own turf. Yet, the typical sales pitch feels more like a meeting than an experience. Few are more memorable than any other meeting, and decision makers are unlikely to clear their calendars to make sure they’re in the office the day the sales reps visit. Frankly, after countless sales calls year after year, B2B buyers become bored and less likely to become customers.
This doesn’t mean you should fire your field sales team! Many sales reps are good at what they do, and are able to subvert expectations and grab the attention of decision makers. However, there’s no reason to hang your success on only one technique. Mobile tradeshow tours complement field sales, creating the initial spark and interest that your field sales team can capitalize on later. As Pro Motion has written about previously, our clients report that their customer relationships are even stronger after a roadshow experience. Internally, the sales team itself becomes more energized, leading to future success.
Still not convinced? You aren’t the only one. Rod Mills, the rehab sales and marketing manager for medical equipment company Invacare, once told Pro Motion’s President Steve Randazzo that he thought the person who hired us had wasted the company’s money! He was suspicious of the cost and felt they could handle the mobile roadshow in-house. However, Rod quickly realized they had partnered with a true professional organization who could take this program where it needed to go more effectively and efficiently than they could themselves. We quickly got to work on the Invacare Mobile Training Lab Tour.
Invacare already knew that end users were impressed with their state-of-the-art line of motorized wheelchairs. The challenge was to build relationships with contacts in the medical field, generating excitement and training them on new technology. Similar to our experience with Hussmann’s refrigeration systems, we knew the best strategy would be to bring the product directly to the consumer. Pro Motion Brand Ambassadors filled four vans with demo wheelchairs and support equipment and reached out to hospitals, doctor’s offices, physical therapy clinics, and other customers that sell the product to end users. The team ultimately visited 286 markets in only two months!
One of the primary drivers of the success of this mobile tour was its emotional impact. Invacare’s staff and local brand advocates joined our core team on the road. Real-life customers spoke about the life-changing benefits of the chairs. These customers added a new layer to the experience, because they could speak earnestly about how Invacare’s chairs were more durable and reliable than other products on the market. One brand advocate shared an emotional story about how after a car accident left him paralyzed, he had lain in bed for five years. After five years, he tried a new chair from Invacare and could start going out to concerts and restaurants, navigating crowds with ease. Stories like these resonate with everyone in a way that no traditional pitch on a field sales call could.
Good mobile roadshows incorporate an exciting, experiential aspect. On the Invacare tour, attendees were invited to test out Invacare’s wheelchairs themselves by navigating an obstacle course in both Invacare chairs and competitor products. Invacare chairs won out by a wide margin every time. No brochure or PowerPoint presentation could provide that experiential “A-ha!” moment that testing out the product in person provides. Feedback was that competitor products felt unstable or unsafe compared to the ease of use of Invacare’s product. After only a few minutes of trying out the chairs, decision makers lined up to inquire about pricing and order quantities. The tour was a resounding success for the Invacare brand.
Here’s what Rod Mills, the initial skeptic, had to say:
My original hesitancy was that it was going to cost us a lot of money, and I wasn’t sure that we couldn’t do it ourselves. I was crazy for thinking we could do it on our own because it ended up being such a better program. We got deeper coverage and put way more eyes on our products than we would’ve been able to. The investment versus what we got was certainly there — I just didn’t see it in the beginning.
Although Rod Mills was a veteran of direct sales and initially resistant to using an outside company, after experiencing how the mobile tour created a level of emotional engagement and hands-on participation that no traditional sales meeting could match, he became one of our biggest advocates. We are extremely proud of our work with Invacare and look forward to working with them in the future.
Are you looking to achieve the kind of success that a mobile roadshow can bring to your B2B company? Pro Motion is an industry leader in creating engaging, effective campaigns. Give us a call at 636.489.2753.
Can’t wait for our next post to learn more? Learn More About Steve Randazzo’s book, Brand Experiences: Building Connections in a Digitally Cluttered World. Click here to download 2 free chapters! Including Chapter 3, all about how to build a B2B trade show tour.