Sales Innovation Expo — Review

Last week, we attended the Sales Innovation Expo in London. Here’s our unbiased review and conclusion.

David

CMO - April 3, 2017

The Sales Innovation Expo claims to be “Europe’s leading sales event”. As a young company, we wanted to attend and see if we could break into a new market. We registered long in advance and had a speaking slot and a 3mx2m booth. Here are some of our impressions and results, sorted by the pros and cons. We’ve kept this as objective as possible.

The stand cost us around $3200 and by the time we added the TV and other add-ons we were at around $4000… which is pretty cheap to exhibit at a sales conference… if the turnout meets expectations.

Pros:

  • The communication leading up to the event was quick and efficient. They posted plenty of our blogs, shared our updates and were excellent at tagging us on social media. For a relatively small startup like us, this was much appreciated.
  • The response time from their staff was great. Usually within 1–3 days we would have whatever issues sorted properly.
  • On the build-up day GES was incredibly quick at fixing issues. Even though they had their hands full and were running around like mad, they respond to support requests quickly and professionally.
  • The staff at the expo was friendly, polite and helpful.
  • The turnout for our keynote was good and all the chairs were filled, plus people standing in the aisle outside. However, this is partially because the room was so small (seated approx 30, I believe).
  • The event venue itself was quite large and there were a good number of exhibitors and attendees. We generated about 45 leads the first day and 15 more the second day, which is much smaller than we expected, but still not bad. We should be able to be ROI positive from that. The B2B Expo, however, did seem well packed… supposedly this is because the marketing attendees are better at advertising the event.
  • We were selected as a finalist for the “Best Product” category after filling in the application for it, which was nice and we received a small “finalist” trophy to place at our stand. Although we did not win the award, the judges were professional, unbiased, and they chose based solely on whatever criteria they were given.

Cons:

  • Every additional item needs to be purchased separately and nothing is included. Need wifi? Need a TV? Need electricity? Need any tables or chairs? Need anything at all?… you need to order it from a vendor, and the prices are not cheap. So, while the stand area itself is a decent price, there are endless add-ons to be aware of.
  • We ran into some difficulties on the build-up day, which is to be expected, but here are a few examples: our carpet flooring had a huge rip in the center and needed replaced. There was a big ugly grey electrical box in the corner of our stand area (each grouping of stands will have this… whose booth it happens to be in is just a matter of luck). The cord for the TV that we paid for did not reach the outlet and we had to take a taxi 15min away to get an extension cord.
  • The keynote rooms were much smaller than expected, only seating about 20–30 people in most theatres and maybe 50–75 in the main keynote theater.
  • The actual traffic at the event was MUCH lower than expected. The way they promote it, you would expect to be busy all day long but in reality, the footfall was a mere fraction of what their salespeople will try and tell you it is. This is not just our observation and was, in fact, the primary common complaint of every single exhibitor we spoke with. I understand this is a new event and still growing, but their delivery on attendees did not match expectations.
  • After the show, their salespeople immediately came up and pestered us about booking for next year, before we had any way whatsoever to calculate ROI. After I said “we’ll get back to you” several times, they continued to try and scare us by talking about how fast space was filling, etc and they offered a “1-month cooling off period” in case we changed our minds (which sounds like a nice thing to do but in reality is just a way to get you to say yes). I didn’t like their sales tactics at all and felt pressured, which is actually the primary reason for why we will look for other events next year.

Summary:

  • All in all, it was a decent show. The spaces were nice, the event area was very large and there were a fair amount of leads. The pre-show marketing was excellent and the staff was wonderful. The show itself was a bit disappointing and while we went in on day one expecting to definitely return next year, we left weighing our options at about a 50–50 of returning. Their promises of “tons of high-quality footfall from top decision makers” did not come to fruition.
  • Most importantly, keep in mind that this is just our experience as a smaller exhibitor. Some folks may have had their expectations far exceeded and some may not. The common theme amongst about 15–20 other exhibitors that I spoke with, however, was that the footfall/visitor traffic at SIE did not meet expectations. Bigger stands seemed to do better, but also are more expensive. If we do return, I think we’ll probably book a bigger stand.
  • So, there you have it. This particular event was not amazing but was not bad either. If you are definitely set on doing this show then go for it and hopefully it will be bigger and better next year… if you are on the fence about it, I hope this review was helpful.

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