By David Hall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Cutting-Edge Solutions

Winter NAMM is just around the corner, and attending the show offers plenty of potential to have a positive and dramatic effect on your business. Sure, it’s challenging to leave the store. But for those four days, the entire industry gathers, giving you the opportunity to build relationships, see new products, sharpen your skills, focus on building your business and shape your future.

Top Five Reasons To Attend NAMM
1.    See, Touch and Hear New Products
With more than 1,400 exhibitors, you’ll have more than enough opportunity to discover new products and services for your store.
2.    Keep Up-to-Date on Music Industry Trends and Issues
Go to NAMM with the mindset to learn about issues that are affecting your business. In this highly political year, dealers have been deluged with conflicting information. Having direct contact with your suppliers will help you get a clearer idea of what’s on the horizon.
3.    See Existing Suppliers
Although it’s important to source out new products and vendors, make sure that you meet with your existing suppliers. Vendors exhibit primarily to attract new dealers. Be respectful of your rep’s time, and focus your conversation on ways to increase your business together. Ask what their company’s goals are for 2013 and explore how you can mutually benefit.
4.    See Specific Companies and Products
Start laying the groundwork now and begin contacting your targeted vendors. Try to get all the details worked out prior to the show. Use the time at NAMM to have your reps teach you about their products and explore ways of building your business together.
5.    Network with Fellow Store Owners, Colleagues and Vendors
They say that the real deals at NAMM are made in the bars after show hours. Work the adjacent hotels and look for opportunities to attend vendor-sponsored events.

Pre-Show Checklist
Careful preparation is crucial. How successfully you accomplish this, and whether your time is well spent, is the key to a successful show.
1.    Setting Goals
What are your main objectives for attending NAMM? Write down all the reasons why you’re going, and then prioritize them. Set realistic goals for each day; allow space between your appointments for meetings that run long or impromptu booth stops.
2.    Use the NAMM App
With this convenient, free app, it’s easier than ever to find your way around the floor and plan your show. This comprehensive resource includes a schedule tool, exhibitor listings, maps, event lists, speakers, a photo gallery, Facebook and Twitter connectivity, and more. If you have difficulty making appointments during show hours, try to schedule meetings at breakfast or after hours.
3.    Confirm Your Appointments Prior to the Show
You’ll work hard to secure appointments. Ensure that they will be kept by sending e-mail confirmations the week prior to the show.

During The Show
1.    NAMM Breakfast Sessions
Each morning, NAMM serves up a hot meal and an inspiring presentation delivered by savvy speakers and industry leaders. Make it a point to attend the Best in Show session, where music industry panelists provide their assessments of noteworthy products and services. Get there early, since the lines are long and the best seats fill up quickly.
2.    Do Not Leave NAMM Without a Show Directory
Show directories are a rich—and often overlooked—resource. They include a complete listing of exhibitors, plus other valuable information that you will find useful year round.
3.    Attend NAMM Idea Center Sessions
The NAMM Idea Center offers free sessions packed with proven tips and techniques in sales, technology, lesson programs, finance and retailing. These quick, focused sessions provide dealers with helpful information without taking up too much valuable show-floor time.
4.    Powerful H.O.T. Zone Sessions
The free H.O.T. (Hands-On Training) Zone sessions offer topics relevant to professionals in the recording, live sound, DJ, house of worship, and staging and lighting industries.
5.    Piano-Specific Sessions and Performances Daily at Lounge 88
Piano dealers from around the world can take educational sessions created just for them at Lounge 88.
6.    New Technology Area at the Show
NAMM’s App and Gaming Pavilion, located at the entrance to Hall E, welcomes this growing market of high-tech companies to exhibit at the NAMM show and to connect with our industry. NAMM also hosts the Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards, a prestigious awards event in the professional audio and sound production industry.
7.    Museum of Making Music Exhibit
“Treasures from the Attic” takes a look at wonderful, rare, unusual and sometimes wacky instruments from America’s music stores and manufacturers. It is located at the entrance to Hall E.
8.    Don’t Assume Vendors Will Find You
Your vendors have been preparing months in advance, and workloads increase as the show gets closer. Your sales reps have limited time to schedule appointments. And, although you might be one of their most important prospects or customers, do not expect them to find you. Don’t take it personally. Be proactive about securing an appointment, and remain flexible. Offer to meet outside the convention center before or after the show.
9.    Know What Questions to Ask
Make the most of the time you’ll have by being prepared. Assemble a short agenda for each meeting and get right to the point. Your reps will appreciate it, and you’ll come home with better results. Most sales reps at trade shows are geared up to pitch their products, causing many meetings to be one-sided. But, when you come prepared and ask thoughtful questions, you’ll learn a great deal about the company, products and rep. That leads to a long relationship, rather than a one-time sale.

After-NAMM Follow Up
Studies show that most trade show meetings are never re-contacted or activated, which wastes the time and money you spend. Effective follow-up should happen within five days of the show…not several weeks later after the meeting has been forgotten.

Attending the NAMM show is a great investment for your businesses. Ensure your success by using these tips to properly plan, prepare, execute and follow up.

David Hall is Vice President – Sales & Marketing for Cutting-Edge Solutions. Their eCommerce products, The Generator and Pro-Active Websites, are utilized by leading vendors and retailers within the music products industry. Contact him at and visit him at NAMM Booth #4323.

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