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HLTH, CHIME, ViVE, HIMSS — Choose and Invest Wisely
By Steve Shihadeh
Steve Shihadeh is founder of Get-to-Market Health of Malvern, PA.
Many vendors in the health technology space have just attended ViVE and/or are preparing for HIMSS to showcase their offerings, meet with clients and 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 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?
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 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 half of these meetings have potential value for you, but it is in your hands. It 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), more posh, and easier to get your head around than HIMSS. If I was mostly intent on getting time with investors and partners, I would have gone to ViVE. If I was mostly focused on potential buyer organizations … let’s go to HIMSS, which comes up in a few weeks.
HIMSS is the grand old show of the health technology business. In its heyday, 40k+ attendees and healthcare IT companies sent everyone from the CEO to their junior sales reps. COVID and the way HIMSS handled the associated cancellations knocked the show for a bit of a loop. Their breakup with CHIME was the next issue. 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. HIMSS attendees slant heavily towards IT staff and leadership, some clinical and financial executives who are 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 CIOs and those who are 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. Vendor participation is carefully managed and expensive, but several key luminary vendors in the field, such as Epic, have built their business around important relationships that it 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 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 10 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.
- Have a presence, even just 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 that 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 and interactions. Do this whether you are exhibiting or not.
- Train in advance on any new announcements and have your team arrive early for last minute retraining.
- 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 hardcore about this. Be best.
- Booth hygiene matters. Have a dress code and stick to it. No food. No cell phones. 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 and send immediate follow-up notes to all visitors.
Trade shows are a big lift, so make sure that you and your team are aligned, prepared, and motivated to have a great show. Hone your messaging so that it works from a buyer’s perspective. Practice your demos until they are crisp. Worry about the details and have a fantastic event.