The OT’s Perspective: The five steps to engaging successfully with occupational therapists at events
Whether you are a mobility supplier or retailer, if you are an exhibitor, then this is for you…
As you probably know, in addition to our OT practice, we run events all over the UK, all with the aim of helping to upskill occupational therapists and help make them aware of products and services that can help them and their clients.
They’re known as OTAC (Occupational Therapy and Adaptations Conference) events, and after running one successfully in 2016, we ran four in 2017, and this year we’re running 9!
Anyway, one of the most common bits of feedback that I get from the OTs who attend is around how helpful and beneficial it is for them to meet with manufacturers and understand how their products work – it broadens their horizons and helps them to specify the correct equipment and adaptations for their clients.
With that in mind, I just thought I’d put together a quick five-step guide for exhibitors looking to engage with potential clients at events:
1. Understand the world of occupational therapy
Obviously, you know how your product helps the end-user but one of the things I would urge you to do is develop your understanding of how occupational therapists work and how you can make their jobs easier.
Talking to OTs at events can give you an insight into how products and services are specified and funded, which in turn can help you to get your product into more homes and help more people.
You may be targeting dealers or selling products or services to the trade, ultimately though, the end-user is the customer, not necessarily the person you sell the product to, thus get to know the chain and work with them all.
2. Show the dealer, retailer, therapist, or buyer how it works
We’ve all seen enough shopping channel TV to know that people are naturally sceptical of ‘gadgets’ and the like, so that’s why it’s crucial for you to make sure that you can communicate the power of what you sell to the delegate who is at your stand!
One of the best ways to do that is via live events – take your product along and you can provide them with a live demonstration. Remember, no laptops, mobile phones or eating on your stand as these put off customers and harm your brand. The delegates are your customers and want your full attention, whether for a quick hello or a thirty-minute demonstration – first impressions count and could lead to a sale.
3. Build relationships
Everything is easier to sell when you’ve got a relationship with the person you want to sell it to and getting face-to-face with the people who can buy your product is the best way to build that relationship. That’s why it’s so vital for manufacturers to get out of the office and along to events – it allows you to really build relationships with people and reduces the friction between you and the sale.
4. Be visible
You might have the best product in the world but if no customer in the world is aware of its existence, you’re unlikely to sell that many and the knock-on effect is that you’re not helping as many people as you want.
Getting along to events and building your brand visibility can ensure that people know who you are and what you do, which gives you far more chance of making the sales you want.
Key Point: Your stand does not need to be the biggest or most expensive. A good stand at many events with happy knowledgeable staff engaging with customers trumps having one large stand at one event or not attending events where your customers are.
5. Capture data
One of the biggest mistakes I see at events is exhibitors not collecting the data of the attendees. They’ll have a great conversation, but without data, it’s impossible to follow up on that person and all the hard work you’ve put in is lost.
Whether it’s a straightforward ‘give me your email address and I’ll send you some more information’, or something more subtle like a business card draw, getting the data of the people most likely to buy from you is a vital step of all successful exhibiting.
I hope these tips can help you at your next exhibition and remember, if you’d like to talk to me about exhibiting at OTAC, just give us a call on 02921 900402 or email email@example.com. Also, there is an exciting new event we are aware of that is specifically for the trade coming soon. More will be revealed in next month’s edition.
Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists panel and a recognised contributor in the field of home adaptations. His experience is sought by manufacturers and service providers looking for an expert opinion. He also runs the Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference
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