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The EDPA Midwest Chapter hosted the first annual Great Sales Debate on August 23, 2011. The event, which was held at the Itasca

The Great Debate

Panelists for The Great Debate included Joe Houle, Chris Kappes, Rhonda Brooks and Tammy Woods.

Country Club in Illinois, was a heavyweight bout between some of the best in exhibit sales.

The panel, which was moderated by Dan Greene of Freeman, consisted of an elite group of seasoned account executives with years of experience in the industry. It included Joe Houle, vice president of strategic development for LAB Exhibits, Chris Kappes, senior vice president of strategic alliances for 3D Exhibits, Tammy Woods, new business development manager for Duo Display, and Rhonda Brooks, sales and marketing representative for Elevation Point.

Greene and Houle came up with the idea for the sales debate months ago, hoping that attendees would walk away with valuable information on building sales in their own companies. Leading up to the debate, Houle was instrumental in the planning and development of the event. 

Greene demonstrated his first-rate knowledge of the industry as he directed questions to the panel dealing with tactical and strategic sales topics, which generated a spirited discussion with the attendees.

All the panelists came out swinging as they strongly advocated their views for a successful sales strategy in the tradeshow industry. And although the debate was vigorous, order and respect was maintained throughout the event. All of the panelists were very complimentary of each other throughout the debate, especially Houle, who never allowed the discussion to get too heated.

Kappes presented himself as an agent of change, preaching the need for new tools, training and social media to drive growth in the future. Houle, who has obviously prepared for the event, relied on his experiences building a multi-million dollar book of business through cold calling and face-to-face selling. Both Woods and Brooks demonstrated their expertise as relationship builders through the significance of service.

Questions posed by Greene ranged from how salespeople differentiate their companies from the competition to predicting how tradeshows will evolve in the future to serve the global business climate and the evolving buyer/seller relationship.

Attendees included exhibit managers, account executives, business owners and some of the top exhibit designers and builders in the country. With each panel member having come from a different background, there were plenty of vantage points for everyone.  

The sold-out event, which was originally scheduled for two hours, went 30 minutes over and could have continued much longer.

The next event hosted by the EDPA Midwest Chapter, to be held on October 25, will discuss the changing landscape of exhibit design as demonstrated at Euro Shop, Exhibitor and Globalshop. This event will be moderated by John Pavek, chief marketing officer for Exhibitor Media Group.

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