In 2018, Europe’s MEDTech, an association representing medical technology companies, is implementing policy on ending direct industry sponsorship of individual healthcare professionals’ conference attendance. With this move toward the American-style funding of CMEs (industry to association), analysts are expecting a decline in attendance at European events. Since these professionals will now be responsible for their own registration and travel costs, U.S. events could be the beneficiary of attendees seeking CMEs in a different environment. As international attendance grows, and regardless of whether your organization is in the healthcare space, you should be prepared to engage with foreign attendees at every event. Here are some ways to maximize those interactions:
Know where you can do business: No matter what industry your organization serves, there may be limitations on where you can sell your products. Based on sales coverage, or simply the ability to deliver equipment, it is important to understand if there are any places that your company does not service. Nothing is more embarrassing for your rep than to have a detailed product discussion and then not be able to close the sale. A little upfront knowledge will help you better handle attendees from those countries.
Understand product regulations: Even if you can sell your products and services in a particular country, they made need to be marketed differently, or for different uses. Pay careful attention to ways products can be discussed in an event environment and be sure to have staffers trained in the correct positioning. If heavy international attendance is expected, it may be helpful to bring in reps from foreign territories who are deeply knowledgeable of local regulations and restrictions.
Engage differently: When international attendees participate in U.S. shows, they likely have the expectation that they will be engaged as any other attendee. However, if you are attracting a significant contingent of international attendees, having a plan to approach them in their preferred manner will drive a deeper brand affinity. For example, Europeans typically discuss business over a coffee or tea in a lounge setting. Providing a place for your reps to offer hospitality and private seating will make them more comfortable and will encourage relationship building.
Creating an engagement strategy for international attendees should be a regular part of your event preparation. With some key business intelligence, plus a basic cultural understanding of the regions you serve, your exhibit can be a welcoming spot for international visitors.