How to get the most out of EDS
EDS is a very unique event, and much more than just “a show”. To get the most from participating in this unique event, participants have to understand its multiple dimensions, and plan in advance to capitalize on its distinctive features:
EDS is an appointment-centered meeting place, and becomes more so each year. Planning for EDS should include contacting the people you want to see, well in advance of your arrival in Las Vegas.
Maintaining a schedule for EDS is a big task. To help you plan for a busy EDS, we offer this Excel file which is used by a number of our participants:
EDS is a marketplace where conversation and conference lead to commerce. Appointments are not enough. Whether your purpose is to refresh an existing relationship or to create a new one, you should have a checklist of what you want to accomplish at each meeting. Planned objectives, and preparation to meet those objectives, are the basic elements behind every successful EDS meeting. Every meeting at EDS has to explore or confirm a “fit” between the products a manufacturer offers and the markets a distributor or representative serves.
EDS is a resource center and a forum. Your planning should allow time to visit the Association Center, where ECIA and ERA, the two sponsoring associations that bring you EDS also put their resources at your disposal.
As a forum where industry trends are explored, EDS provides both formal and informal methods of learning what’s new, what’s happening, what’s going to be happening, and what it means to your company and your prosperity. Keynotes and networking events all put you on top of the trends that shape your future.
Best Practices for a Successful EDS
EDS week is extremely busy. Below are best practices that will help you and your company get the most out of your time and financial investment.
- Register. To guarantee the most positive experience while in Las Vegas, it is imperative that you register through edssummit.com. The sooner, the better. We want to make sure your meeting space requirements and hotel room needs are met. EDS is financially supported by the participation fees paid by manufacturers. It is important to attend meetings held at the EDS Leadership Summit hotel.
- Create a calendar. You will have very little time to make any adjustments to your schedule while attending EDS, so planning in advance is of the utmost importance. Make sure you set aside time for the EDS All-Industry Event on Tuesday from 4:30 to 6PM. A template is available here on website to assist with your scheduling.
- Schedule your meetings early. Most distributors, manufacturers, and manufacturer’s sales representatives start scheduling their meetings in the December prior to EDS. You don’t need to have the meeting details planned out this early, but making sure you have a time slot reserved for your meetings is first and foremost. As EDS gets closer, re-confirm your meeting times. It is strongly recommended to plan early as schedules fill quickly and last-minute meeting requests are difficult to accommodate.
- While scheduling your meetings, identify specific people that you want in attendance. This is the best way for you to make sure that your meetings are going to meet your expectations. Relatedly, make sure the right people from your own company will be at EDS. If some key people’s time is limited, make sure the schedule of meetings and dinners reflects their availability.
- Make dinner plans just as early. It is also a good idea to agree in advance about the price range of the dinner and identify who will be paying (or if bill is to be split), to avoid any confusion or awkward moments. Here is a list of restaurant suggestions and locations for groups.
- Set goals for the meetings. Identify your company’s internal goals when crafting your presentation material. What do you want your company message to be, and what do you want from your distributors, reps or manufacturers in return? Manufacturer’s Rep meetings: (See suggested guidelines for holding Manufacturer’s / Manufacturer’s Sales Representative meetings)
- Plan your hour wisely. Meetings are typically 50 to 55 minutes in length, so make it count. Share your goals and agree upon a meeting strategy. Talk about things that you want to accomplish and who should be in attendance to make that happen. Allocate time for each of the companies to present and a 5‑minute wrap-up period. It is a good practice to be respectful and aware of time to allow everyone to make their next scheduled meeting. Keeping all of your appointments at the host hotel, rather than off-site will allow you to maximize your time at EDS.
- Prepare materials in advance. Back-up documentation will only help in making the meeting count, instead of having to ‘go back and check’ on some details that could have been prepared. Consider having all of your materials on a USB or Flash Drive to help facilitate a good flow in the meeting without having to stop and switch out laptops & connections. Consider tools for organizing yourself at the show such as electronic capture of business cards, electronic tasks lists for follow up, etc.
- Allow time before the meetings to set up your rooms or meeting space. Make sure you have the necessary equipment such as A/V requirements, cables, drinks, snacks, business cards, handouts or giveaways, etc.
- Once the meetings start, keep track of who is there and what is discussed. Assign a person to keep meeting notes, action items, and commitments.
- Recap and agree to follow-up items prior to the meeting end.
- Post-meeting, follow up within 30 days. It is important to follow up within 30 days before everyone forgets everything that was agreed upon at EDS. It is easy to just get wrapped back up in our daily jobs when returning home, so it is imperative to spend the time to follow up and keep the great momentum going from a successful week at the EDS Leadership Summit.
- If you are hosting meetings, send out confirmation emails 60 days, 30 days and a week before EDS begins. Try and get the list of attendees of the individual distributors beforehand.
- Appoint one individual from your team to keep track of your entire teams’ appointments including dinners and other social events.
Best Practices for Successful Meetings with Your Reps
- Respect time. Often due the nature of EDS reps in many cases are overscheduled, so 2 and 3 hour Rep meetings create a huge challenge.
- Due to hourly time slots set up, off-property events are extremely challenging and may not be attended at all by reps.
- Try to hold meetings away from busiest days. Wednesday and Thursday are used primarily for Distributor/Manufacturer meetings. In most cases Reps need to attend these.
- Avoid weekend meetings out of respect for attendees
- Do not expect your Reps to have to bring extra people from their company out to Vegas just to attend the Manufacturer/Rep meetings unless participation is required
- The meetings should be focused on NPI, strategies, tools for the Reps to use going forward, mid-year state of union type subjects, and issues/challenges. It is extremely challenging to do business reviews, rep council meeting QBRs’, etc. due to the nature of the short time slots and active meeting schedules. The quality of these meetings tends to be diminished because of the number of meetings at the show.
Best Practices Video Series
We’ve created a series of videos on best practices and tips for a successful EDS. Watch them here.