Manufacturer Training at Church Conferences

featured-future-howHaving both attended and exhibited at churches conferences and expos, I’ve learned that while a vendor may have the coolest/best/newest technology on display on the show floor, there’s nothing more compelling to church influencers and buyers than a great training or education session off of the show floor to drive quality leads. The reason is simple: Demonstrating that you can solve a pain point for churches and provide unbiased education makes your products stand out more than any single feature or benefit.

Demonstrate, Then Educate

The power of a demo is obvious. But I’ve sat through many demos where the ‘presenter’ was hardly restraining his sales quota; features and benefits and ‘it-can-do-this-too’ were what the audience endured. The essence of a powerful demo happens when the presenter doesn’t lead with their product but leads the attendee to their solution without mentioning their brand. Solving pain points, making operation easier and more consistent for staff and volunteers, identifying with the personas in the room — those are the elements that transcend a product pitch to a solution demonstration.

The demonstration is not complete, however, until the attendees have been educated. They need to leave your session inspired and enthusiastic to both seek you out at your booth on the show floor and take back the insights gleaned to their team — and purchasing decision-makers. A vendor session is infinitely more powerful and effective when the solution makes sense, which leads to the product chosen.

Educate, Then Initiate

The show floor is usually a poor place to try and educate a passerby or to even hold an extended conversation with a prospect due to the competition for their time and attention. This makes educating a key component of vendor/manufacturer led sessions out of the expo hall. These 30 minute (ideal) to one hour (your presenter and solution better be amazing) sessions give you the opportunity — but not the guarantee — of a rapt audience. In my experience, the value of a session is worth the price of paying to exhibit in most church tech conferences because you have a chance to focus entirely on the church customers and not on your technology.

It may sound counterintuitive, but as I said earlier, it’s best to lead someone to your solution than to lead with your product because it gives them the chance to identify their circumstances, their venue, their volunteers and even their pastor as the ones who benefit the most from reduced pain, better operational efficiencies and/or new opportunities to increase the effectiveness of technology in their applications. If you beat a path to a user-centered solution, they’ll often beat a path to your product.

Educating these church technology attendees has less to do with facts, stats, and figures, and more to do with the emotional connection that happens when you provide hope for their circumstances.

Don’t Sell, Illustrate

If I’ve not made it abundantly clear at this point, allow me to be blunt: Don’t sell your product at a church technology conference; sell why you do what you do and how it solves problems and opens up new possibilities for churches. The last thing you want to do is make it easy for an inaccurate A-to-B comparison by limiting your talking points to features, benefits, or cost. That’s not what will make your solution unique, nor will it make you stand out from the endless aisles of competing for gadgetry on the expo floor.

The power of a narrative has more influencing capability than the ultimate list of killer features. Use metaphor and simile to illustrate the what’s-in-it-for-me (WIIFM) opportunity and better identify with the church influencers and buyers. I’ve written about this extensively here on rAVe [Publications], and have included some helpful links to get you up to speed.

Are you leveraging training sessions at church technology conferences to demonstrate, educate, and illuminate or to hawk your gear? The difference is profound. Don’t sell. Inspire!

Share your views and opinions in the comments below and be sure to click the share buttons for social media to put this in front of your church clients.