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The engineering firm Hussmann primarily sells commercial refrigeration systems to its retail food clients, including restaurants and grocery stores. It seeks to be on the cutting edge, coming up with innovative shelf tags, lighting options, and technological advances. To communicate about its innovations to potential buyers, it previously relied heavily on trade shows. By staffing their expansive display booths, company reps could meet with existing and potential clients, introducing the novel technology and outlining how it might benefit their operations.

But COVID-19 has meant most of these trade shows are cancelled. Even those that persisted have suffered from dwindling attendance. Hussmann representatives could still call and video chat with clients, but they could not introduce them in person to the exciting developments that the company engineers had crafted.

So it turned its innovative capabilities to a new goal: finding novel ways to reach buyers. A retrofitted, 53-foot trailer was equipped with nine innovative refrigeration devices, several of which were new to the world or the industry, such that they required extensive introductions for clients to understand their appeal. Then a team from Hussmann, including both sales reps and engineers, embarked on a 12-week tour, stopping in the parking lots of around 40 different customer locations to share what it called the “Shop the Future Mobile Experience.”

When clients ventured out to their parking lots, at their scheduled appointment times, they found the trailer, along with a massive video screens that played introductory videos featuring Hussmann’s CEO. After checking the visitors’ temperatures and confirming masks were in place, the sales rep invited groups of up to eight customers into the trailer. They could interact with the nine new product offerings, gathering in-person insights and information. After a predetermined amount of time, they exited the trailer. Another sales representative was immediately available via Zoom to answer any questions and provide any further information they needed.

The traveling experience covered lots of the bases required for a business-to-business sale. Hussmann showed its clients that it was willing to go out of its way to meet their needs. It gave them opportunities to discover latent needs and interact with its product offerings. Furthermore, it clarified that additional resources were available, even if remotely, to address any questions they might have. It’s personalized selling in a COVID-19 world, and it might just be the future of B2B mobile experiences.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What sorts of industries are best suited for such an interactive experience? Which are not well suited to it?
  2. Compare the benefits of conventional trade shows with this novel approach. How do they differ?

Source: Kait Shea, “Hussmann Steps Back from Trade Shows and Leans into an Educational Mobile Tour,” Event Marketer, December 21, 2020