Trade shows are one of the best opportunities for vendors to connect to potential buyers, and it turns out that chief executive officers may be the biggest buyers of all. More than professionals with any other job title, the CEO comes to trade shows looking to buy, according to a recent report by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. A survey of executives, as well as upper, middle and lower management, found that CEOs place the highest importance on finding solutions for problems, seeing new products firsthand and meeting their user bases.
In many ways, the CEO's dual role as chief buyer makes sense - he or she likely needs to cut through the least amount of red tape to make a purchasing decision. There's a reason that CEOs founded successful companies or ascended to leadership roles - they have a track record of making smart decisions. Additionally, according to management consultant Cesare Mainardi, CEOs are under increasing pressure to outpace competitors through seizing market trends and making proactive investments, The Wall Street Journal reported. Their desire to always be moving ahead with smart investments prepares them to pull the trigger if they sense a beneficial investment.
There are a few ways trade show exhibitors can cater to CEOs directly. It may help to address the CEO of a prospective lead without making too big a deal of it - a CEO wants to see the product and pitch in action, not customized for his or her benefit. Exhibitors should absolutely know who these individuals are, but it's more important to develop an exhibition and booth that target every attendee, not just the ones with executive titles. If the exhibitor wants to give a special token to the CEO, it can be in the form of some special swag bestowed as exhibitor and CEO part ways. Doing this enables the organization to show the CEO the normal way things work, as well as acknowledge the importance of his or her engagement.