6 tips on how to do the Indabas

CFO SA MD Graham Fehrsen gave partners a lesson on how to get the best out of the Finance and HR Indabas.

CFO SA and CHRO SA held a partner breakfast at the Sandton Convention Centre, where partners were invited to meet the respective teams and ask whatever questions they had leading up to the Finance Indaba and the inaugural HR Indaba, which will be running concurrently at the convention centre on 3 & 4 October 2018. With registrations for the events Indaba already exceeding 5,000 and 3,000 respectively, they promise to deliver droves of potential clients and the partners that attended the breakfast were visibly enthused. 

"The way that we build these Indabas is based on 25 years of experience from running similar events in Europe. At the end of the day, the whole objective behind events like these is for you to generate leads that will result in sales, otherwise, it's a pointless exercise," said CFO SA MD Graham Fehrsen, who then explained to the partners how best to approach the Indabas.

Here are his six tops tips on how to do the Indabas well:

1 Build content that supports the message you convey in your speaking session. When people see your session on the programme but decide to go see a different speaker during your slot, they should still be able to follow up with you at your stand and get the same information if not the same experience. If you are going to be exhibiting for the first time, and you'll be employing people to be at your stand to smile and wave, you have to prepare them to be able to deliver the same (or a similar) message that will be carried in your session. What you don't what is for them to shrug their shoulders and say "I don't know much about the speaking session, but here is a brochure". That's a big no-no. 

2 Don't talk about your product or service. There are many other products and services like yours out there so rather talk about the business problems your organisation can solve. Show how you have helped other clients solve a problem. Using the television screen for branding, for example, is okay but it would be better to run video, images or slides that talk about the business problems you solve. Your brand is much more useful as a product or service if people can attach it to something that is useful to them. That is why you need your session to be aligned with what will be happening on your stand.

3 Beware corporate gifts. Be careful about spending your marketing budget on stress balls, pens, keychains and such because they're not particularly effective in turning leads into sales. Memory sticks, on the other hand, can be useful if they are loaded with content that provides insight into the business problem you are solving. If you want to do giveaways, it's better to give away a free consultation or a one-on-one with the MD of your business, where he or she can give the client a better understanding of the value they can offer the potential client.

4 Prepare questions for potential clients beforehand. When someone comes to your exhibition stand ask them about THEIR business and the challenges THEY are facing. Find out about what exciting things are happening in THAT industry. Don't get trapped into the habit of talking about yourself too much. You may find it useful to prepare a standard set of questions beforehand, and use that as a template. Make sure the questions will help you to sort the difference between high-potential leads and people who are only mildly curious about what you do. Examples: Who are you? What is your title? What are the kinds of ideas or solutions you are hoping to find at this event? What have you found interesting at the Indaba so far?

5 Get the Connect app. The Connect app will allow you to purchase the details of the people who come to your stand by simply scanning their name badge. If you have a speaking session, having the Connect app will allow CFO SA to send you the names and details of the people that attended it. That will provide a fast and easy way of keeping track of the people you have spoken to. The information you get won't include titles so you won't be able to tell whether someone is a decision-maker in their business but you will at least be able to sort through those names at a later stage to research them and find out which potential clients should be prioritised over others.

6 Bring back-up WiFi if you need it. The will be free WiFi available to all exhibitioners and speakers but it is wise to have a backup plan. There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of devices logged onto the free network and that will undoubtedly slow the speed for everybody, so it is best to have another option, particularly if internet connectivity is vital to your exhibition stand. Also, please do not give away the WiFi password to regular attendees of the event, as that will only slow the speed down for the rest of the exhibitors.