HARDI’s Marketing and Sales Optimization Conference at the Marriott Courtyard in Philadelphia, Sept. 17 to 19, broke an attendance record for all previous focus conferences with 236 attendees, highlighted by 108 distributors, 106 suppliers and five independent reps.

Rooms were crowded for most sessions as HARDI members gathered to learn how to market their products better and increase sales.

A sampling of the presenters and their content included:

Tim David: The Magic of Human Connection – A Dying Art in a Noisy World

David, a former magician and mentalist, kicked off the presentation by choosing two members of the audience, and, with their eyes closed, “commanded” each person to mimic the other’s body movements. He then did a simple magic trick of making a pen cap disappear, which failed, and made the pen disappear. He revealed the secret to the trick to illustrate the idea that how we look at anything, from a different angle, is often the key to unlocking its potential. In that context, David stressed that technology has stripped away much of our human interacting, which is fundamentally important if we’re going to communicate either in business or at home. The key is to employ magic words that make a difference and are more included to foster a positive personal relationship. David is the author of Magic Words: The Science and Secrets Behind Seven Words that Motivate, Engage, and Influence.  (One of those magic words is “because.”)

Jamie Turner: 7 B2B Consumer Behavior Secrets for Sales and Marketing

Turner, the author of several books including How to Make Money with Social Media, said before you consider the difference between B2C and B2B marketing, remember that both groups have a C component. He reminded us that businesspeople don’t completely shed their consumer skin when making a buying decision. However, differences do exist,  and in the B2B world of marketing and sales, expect these differences when comparing it to the consumer sphere. They include fewer, larger buyers; close buyer-customer relationships; professional purchasing; several buying influences; and multiple sales calls.

Barry Wright: Negotiate to Drive Revenue and Profitability

Negotiation expert Wright started his presentation by urging the audience to “test your assumptions, estimates and perceptions.” He said that having hardened or fixed attitudes can create problems when you need a more open-minded approach to negotiation. Wright’s last two segments of the presentation were particularly compelling. He divided the entire room into groups of two. One person was a buyer of used school buses, the other, a seller. With a sheet of facts unique to each person, they had to negotiate a sale. It was an excellent simulation of the give-and-take in an actual sale.  Finally, he concluded with a Ulysses contract (named for the mythical Greek warrior). Wright, who is slightly fanatical about no one leaving his seminar without implementing something they learned during his presentation, invoked the Ulysses Pact. Here two persons at a table would fill out a brief form, sharing their contact information and answering these questions:

What …. will I be doing to achieve these goals?

What … will I stop doing to make room for new actions?

How will we measure performance improvement?

Each person signs the document and hands it to his or her “buddy,” and they are required to follow up in a reasonable length of time to complete the deal.

Brian and Eddie Bluff: What Every HVACR Marketer Needs to Know

The Bluff brothers have worked closely with HARDI members, logging in more than 1,560 hours of research while conducting 41 interviews over one year in an effort to improve their marketing skills and effectiveness.

“As technology and the availability of information continues to advance and change, the HVACR industry has not kept pace,” Eddie Bluff said.

“As a consequence, consumers are underserved, the vast majority of contractors are losing business and distributors struggle to grow while Amazon eats at their wallet. The HARDI ROC [Road map, Ongoing efforts and Customers] initiative is focused on providing the ideal marketing solution for HVACR distributors that couples the latest in technology with the goal of maximizing revenue.”

While providing an extensive overview of the marketing process, they shared free resources that help marketers save time and money. These include: buyer persona, case study, marketing plan (think calendar), editorial calendar, conversation calendar, landing page, reviews. They are available at www.site-seeker.com/hardi/

HARDI added a new feature to the Sales & Marketing Optimization Conference. On the last day of the conference, they presented the new Proven Vendor Solution Center. Sixteen HARDI vendors had the opportunity to display and educate members about their specific services and offerings.