Many vendors in the health technology space have just attended ViVE and/or are preparing for HIMSS to showcase their offerings, meet with clients/prospects, and engage with their investors. For most of our clients and friends in the industry, these shows represent a significant investment of time, money, and education for their teams.
Execute these shows right, and you reap the rewards in new contracts, bought-in clients, and investors who get your plan. Do it not so-well, and you miss out on the year’s biggest potential market exposure for your company. What can you do to maximize this opportunity? Turns out, a lot.
First to ViVE.
If you just went to ViVE looking to find a vast field of potential customers on the exhibit floor, you probably came up wanting. One well respected colleague called it as “six vendors for every buyer.” The main live customer engagement seemed to come from the (very well-run) Hosted Buyer Program in the ViVE Connect Lounge. This is a “pay for x meetings” gig where the matched potential customer is trading their time to hear your pitch for reimbursement for ViVE fees and possibly T&L. Based on our experience, about ½ of these meetings have potential value for you, but it is in your hands. What we mean is, this is really “speed dating.” You must be on message; be quick to read the buyer; and put your best foot forward. ViVE is smaller (although just about every company in the space made sure to have someone there), posher, and just easier to get your head around than HIMSS. If my primary goal was getting time with investors and partners, I would have gone to ViVE. If I cared mostly about potential buyer organizations, I’d go to HIMSS—which is coming up in a few weeks.
HIMSS is the grand old show of the health technology business. In its heyday it attracted 40k+ attendees—healthcare IT companies sent everyone from the CEO to their junior sales reps. COVID and the way HIMSS handled associated cancellations knocked the show for a bit of a loop. Their breakup with CHIME was the next issue they encountered. Now ViVE (in association with CHIME) is giving them competition that they did not have before, along with HLTH. HIMSS has historically been gigantic and hard to navigate. However, it had most everyone in the business in one enormous convention center along with a sea of potential buyers evaluating systems. Generally, HIMSS attendees slant heavily towards IT staff/leadership, some clinical/financial executives in the market for new systems, and an occasional CEO. Given its size, HIMSS takes extra work, extra people and extra prep to get the most of your investment, but it is too tempting to pass up for most every company in the business.
Given the hip and more accessible vibe of ViVE (sorry, could not resist), I suspect HIMSS will make some adjustments. Good competition will do that for you. It will be great to be at HIMSS and get a real pulse of the industry post-COVID and in the new AI-everything world.
A few words on CHIME and HLTH.
CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) is the single most important event for CIO’s and those on a CIO career track. They run a fabulous boot camp for people in the field and have an agenda aimed squarely at the CIO. Vendors’ participation is carefully managed and expensive, but several key luminary vendors in the field (e.g., EPIC) have built their business around important relationships established with CIOs via CHIME. If CIOs are crucial to your business, CHIME is the place to be.
HLTH is a relatively new show hosted by the same folks who run ViVE. It is well run, quite upscale, targeted mainly at investors, and attracts enough potential buyers to make it interesting. For those who have been to the JP Morgan Healthcare conference, HLTH is a much friendlier environment to tout your plans, show your wares, and get quality time with all the key investors in the space.
Where to make your investments and our top ten tips to maximize your return.
Given how expensive any of these shows can be, we have some suggestions on how to get the most return.
Ten things we recommend your company consider around trade shows:
- Have a presence (even one key person) at as many of the shows that you can. It is a great way to drive meetings and prospect engagements (e.g., “Are you going to HLTH?”). A lot of startups who cannot justify the fees of the show, still get mileage by being “around” the event and meeting potential partners at local hotels.
- Based on your company’s priorities, pick your most important show for any exhibit booth investments. Securing, staffing, and running a booth at a show is a significant investment.
- Send only your best, most committed people. Buyers will judge you by your staff.
- Be fully committed to setting up meetings in advance. Know who in your target market is attending and schedule meetings/interactions. Do this if you are exhibiting or not.
- Train in advance on any new announcements and have your team arrive early for last minute re-training.
- Trade shows are a fantastic selling opportunity and need to be treated as such. Booth personnel need to be focused on facing clients and prospects and not connecting with industry friends. The best run booths are hard core about this. Be best.
- Booth hygiene matters. Have a dress code and stick to it. No food. No cell phone. No rep to rep chatting.
- Get a modern lead tracking tool and train your booth staff on it.
- Force (gently) all inquiries to your front desk so you can properly capture their info and direct them to the right staff in your booth.
- Get your leads into your CRM system ASAP (or sooner!) and send immediate follow up notes to all visitors.
Trade shows are a big lift, so make sure you and your team are aligned, prepared, and motivated to have a great show. Hone your messaging so it works from a buyer’s perspective. Practice your demos till they are crisp. Pay attention to the details and have a fantastic event.
“HLTH, CHIME, ViVE & HIMSS. Choose and invest wisely” was also posted on HISTalk Readers Write on April 5, 2023.