A few days ago, it was announced that the trade fair Drinktec in Munich – which was supposed to take place in September 2021 – was postponed for a year. It is a fair with an international flair that takes place every 4 years. The organizers feared that it would have been subdued, with few visitors, despite three-quarters of the exhibition spaces already being booked. This one-year postponement is in addition to that of the Simei fair in Milan (for winemaking and bottling machines) which should have taken place in November. This further reduces exhibition spaces for those who, like me, work in the technical beverage industry.

At the beginning of the year, the expectation of many operators – from all sectors – was that starting from September 2021 we would be back to normal. But, unfortunately, this will not be the case. The health situation does not allow it. In the end, the trade fair and travel blackout will last 2 years. What can those in a sales position do then?

Whether we like it or not, by now we have come to understand that the arrows we have left to shoot are mainly of a digital nature. It is in these tools that we must invest in 2021 because very few trade fairs will take place this year! Many sectors have never stopped; like this same beverage industry. On the contrary – they have had a surge. And so, if we want to have visibility – to be taken into consideration by buyers who spend their time in front of the screen – we have to be online. In both quantity and quality.

I don’t want to list all the actions that could be implemented in this area here. I just think about how many videos introducing our new products we could make. (Obviously professionally made!)

We will definitely return to travel and to trade fairs, but what has happened must make us reflect. We are learning to carry out the different facets of our sales jobs in ways that were unthinkable until a year ago. I don’t believe that the new skills we are acquiring will no longer serve us when the health situation is normalized. Personal relationships are certainly irreplaceable but – especially for a small and medium-sized business – they are not always feasible, especially with regards to resources. So let’s try to “learn the skill and put it away for a rainy day” as our grandparents used to say.

If you want to delve into these issues further you can read my book Exporting in 7 Steps.