Would I lie to you?

Exhibitors fail to follow-up sales leads – fact or fiction? Jim Curry, founder of Exhibitor Smarts, puts his detective skills to the test. Two hundred. That’s the average number of lies we are told or hear every single day of our lives. The research study, published by respected social psychologist Jerald Jellison, means we could hear a whopping 73,000 lies every single year – and it’s only going to get higher. It’s fascinating when you start researching the subject of lying because you find out things you never knew. I found out that there are more than 30 different types of lies, stretching from little fibs right through to big, pathological ones. For example, former US president Bill Clinton’s assertion of, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” by definition sits somewhere between a dissembling lie and utter bull****. But let’s not get depressed about the darkness of human dishonesty – there is hope. You see, not all lies are negative; some are kind and playful like a surprise birthday party. And then there are the lies told for our benefit and enjoyment such as the story of Father Christmas. Other lies are told out of politeness or to spare our feelings. Do you really think I laughed out loud at that email? Please. Sometimes we tell lies to elicit a response from our audience. An example of this in the exhibition industry is the one we tell exhibitors about leads. “70/75/80 per cent (delete as applicable) of exhibition leads are not followed up.” This is a lie and we use it to shock exhibitors about the wasted opportunities at an exhibition in the hope that they don’t make the same mistake. It’s not a bad lie because it has good intentions and by definition is a combination of a little white lie, a half-truth and an exaggeration. Nonetheless it is a lie – or at least nobody can provide me with a burden of proof about where the ever-changing statistic comes from. The nearest people get is a research project by CEIR nearly eight years ago. All the way back to 2008 with the fading memories of the Beijing Olympics and the fallout of subprime lending. Times have changed drastically since then and none more so than the technological advances of lead management software used by exhibitors. A more recent study, by the American Exhibitor Media Group (2015), showed 69 per cent of exhibiting companies have a formal lead follow up plan in place for leads collected at trade shows and events. Furthermore, the majority of leads were followed up between two to five times. Not bad, huh? I think we can assume that the UK is tracking at roughly same rate if not higher. When you dig a little bit deeper it is no surprise that email (45 per cent) was by far the most popular initial follow up channel with direct mail (25 per cent) and personal phones call (24 per cent) a distant second and third respectively. You see, when you are prepared to challenge a lie the truth will come out, but that’s not the end of it. The mere discussion of this statement uncovers two issues that we need to address as an industry when it comes to the exhibitor community. The first is obvious. There is an absolute dearth of research about the single biggest revenue stream of the exhibitions industry – the exhibitor. In my experience research has always been slim on the ground in the UK exhibition industry and yet the wheel still turns, so perhaps we should just accept that there is no appetite for it amongst the power players. Personally I think having to rely on US research to justify a UK opinion is embarrassing, but I’ve never been a proud man. I also think that industry-wide exhibitor research could bring knowledge, insight, learning, opportunities, growth and ultimately revenue, which can only benefit each and every stakeholder in the industry. The second issue is altogether more worrying and even more subjective than the first. I think we lie to ourselves when we blame exhibitors’ poor lead management and performance traits on the very businesses that fund our industry. Across the board we are sending out analogue signals to exhibitors who switched to digital receivers a long time ago. There is a massive disconnect between the exhibitor communities and their objectives in comparison to the service, management and training we provide collectively – and that’s the truth.   This article was first published in the August issue of EN. Any comments? Email Jamie Wallis
Jim Curry
Posted by Jim Curry
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