hen we initially conducted research with would-be attendees to PACK EXPO Connects, we started with a simple question: "What would get you to come to a virtual PACK EXPO?" Two answers quickly emerged. First, the opportunity to see short live-steam demos and interact with exhibitors during those demos, replicating the dynamic of the physical event.
But the second answer was simple: Access to technical experts live and real time, not just salespeople. In the words of one packaging executive we talked to, he wants to make sure you have "technical representation available, not just a sales guy. To me that’s a real big deal." Another said she wanted the ability to "click on an OEM to chat with one of their engineers to ask questions."
Think about it: The rest of the time, this very technical buying audience has to go through a salesperson and wait days for answers. PACK EXPO Connects is their (and your) chance to have a qualified buying audience talk directly to your technical experts and get their questions immediately answered. That's why it's so important to staff your virtual showroom with Virtual Business Cards consisting of engineering and technical talent, not just salespeople. That makes your showroom that much more appealing, and increases the likelihood that attendees will strike up a conversation and ask their questions. Check out your competitors' showrooms. If they have engineering and technical people listed in the chat section and you don't, you're at a disadvantage. And it cuts in your favor too, if you have engineering people and they do not.
Interestingly, this desire to access real technical people is a theme that appears in our buying cycle research conducted last year. Listen to these actual quotes from buyers:
"It's frustrating when you don't get a response to your email or form."
"It is very frustrating when it takes two or three conversations" to get the desired answers.
It also was a theme from the previous time we conducted that research several years prior. When we asked about pain points in the buying process, here are some representative answers we received:
"Finding knowledgeable people to help understand the best solution for my application."
"Need more direct interface with technical staff which are in short supply."
"Insufficient direct sales coverage and face-to-face discussion with pertinent experts."
"Technical incompetence of sales people."
Some of those quotes seem pretty harsh. And your company's salespeople are surely not like that. But it's important to realize that this is a persistent frustration that exists among buyers. This is their perception, and perception is reality.
Live chat with technical experts from your company in real time is a way to break through these frustrations.
Once you have made the decision to staff your virtual showroom with Virtual Business Cards featuring engineering and technical experts, you need to promote this fact as widely as you can. You should promote this access to your own customer and prospects list, early and often. Send e-mails to your list inviting people to chat you up. Promote this to your social media followers. Brag about the pedigree of the people that your customers and prospects will be able to interact with. These folks aren't available every day, but during PACK EXPO Connects, they will be. If you are buying ad campaigns from PMMI Media Group or other publications, make sure you message this in your ads.
So commit your technical people to staffing live chat during PACK EXPO Connects, and promote this early and often.