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Sweet Home Colorado

RLE’s like a family, and while we love to travel – seeing familiar faces and making connections with new customers – it’s always fun when the whole crew is together under one roof.  Our sales staff has recently returned from Vegas where we exhibited at Data Center World, AFCOM’s spring 2013 conference.  While they didn’t go as crazy as the Grizwolds did when they spent a week in Vegas, now that they’re back we’d love to share the lessons learned.

If You’ve Got It, Show It Off

As we say in the West – it’s not our first rodeo.  We’ve been attending Data Center World for quite some time.  And for good reason.  It draws the perfect audience for our products and our booth was bustling with activity.  “Since RLE’s primary market is the focus of the show, opportunities for RLE are everywhere,” says Cam Rogers, RLE’s VP of Sales.  “Data Center World provides a great setting for establishing new relationships.”

Jeremy Swanner, RLE’s EVP of Sales, agreed.  “The AFCOM show is well attended with respect to the major companies in the Data Center industry.  All of the well-known manufacturers are in attendance.  Speaking of attendance, I heard unofficially, DCW attendance was up by 200+ attendees!”  All those smiling faces make the hours on the show floor fly by.

As usual, our booth was very busy.  The live demo of our leak detection equipment is always a crowd pleaser.  You can talk about products all day long, but nothing is more powerful than seeing a product in action.  We know our leak detection systems are fast and accurate, but when attendees can see that a tiny puddle of water can generate an alarm so quickly – and watch the alarm pop up on an interactive map and on a mobile device – that’s powerful stuff.

A couple of raffles also drove repeat visits back to the booth.  Since you had to be present to win, folks had to stop by again at raffle time, giving us another opportunity to connect and to reward some great attendees with gift cards.

Venture Beyond the Show Floor

We feel like we’ve got the show floor routine down, but we wanted to stretch our reach at this show.  How could we better use the time we’re there outside show floor hours?  And while Blue Man Group is a great show, that’s not what we mean by spending time wisely.

As Cam Rogers so aptly says, “One of the things I like about exhibiting at Data Center World is the fact that we have a significant number of exhibiting and attending customers and it provides a great opportunity to visit with them without having to schedule travel all over the country.”

So what did we do?  We thought of the show not just as a trade show, but as an opportunity to meet with many of our customers and partners in one place, in a very short span of time.

This isn’t something you can do effectively on the spur of the moment.  We called customers ahead of time.  We communicated with our partners in the months before the show.  And we locked down meeting times and locations so we could have those deep, focused conversations that are the veritable icing on the trade show cake.  Chris Pullen, RLE’s President point out, “Our pre-show prep really paid off.”

When the show wasn’t in session, we had meeting scheduled.  “I helped that the show didn’t start until later in the day which left time for early meetings,” says Pullen.  “People seemed to really take the time to grab a cup of coffee or a drink and talk business. There was a lot of key information exchanged regarding the health of the economy, challenges they are facing, and potential business opportunities.”

Jeremy Swanner exchanged information and ideas with other thought leaders.  “Based on the meetings we had, the general consensus was Q1 2013 was a solid quarter and exceeded most companies’ revenue plans.  January seemed to be a little slow off the blocks, but February and March picked up to finish Q1 ahead of plan.  RLE also had a strong finish in March.”

Swanner also gleaned information regarding the growth of the data center industry.  “The feedback from  colocation companies was mixed – some thought they saw potential for major growth in the data center industry; others thought that area was retracting a bit and pulling back to the organic data center.”

As for international business, Swanner left the show feeling very optimistic.  “Asia was the global hot spot for growth….again…  However, a few of our peers out there are looking at expanding into the EU and EMEA with a higher commitment of investment and personnel.  RLE was able to meet with a potential channel partner out of Germany which seemed very interested in moving forward in a formal partnership, we would be very supportive of this highly professional organization representing RLE in the EU.”

Takeaways for the Next Show

So, what did we do that we’ll do again?

First off, we’ll be back at Data Center World.  Kudos to AFCOM for creating the framework for a strong conference that pulls an influential, knowledgeable crowd time and time again.

For us, it’s a must-do show.  We have so many customers and partners that attend the show, and it’s geared right at our target market.  How could we say no to that?

Secondly – we’ll keep using and improving our live demos.  We can talk until we’re blue in the face.  And sometimes we do.  But showing someone and letting them experience the product for themselves.  That’s something you can’t do over a phone or on a quick sales call.  Use the floor for demos and people will remember your products.

And finally – we’re committed to setting time ahead pre-show to schedule some meetings.  While spur-of-the-moment meetings are inevitable at shows, a little planning goes a long way.  It allows you to cement quality, focused time with a contact and shows those folks that you value them enough to make plans to see them.

What did you learn at DCW this year?  Let us know in our comments section – we’d love to know about your experiences at the show, what worked well for you, and what you plan to do at the next show.  

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