Exhibiting in your industry
trade show can often generate more leads from one trade-show than you can in
the field in a whole year. Here are some sales techniques that can make the
difference between success or failure in your trade-show sales efforts.
Prior to the show...
Get your sales and marketing
staff, to discuss what has worked for you when you have exhibited in the past
and what hasn't. Be sure to include everyone that is involved with the show.
Involving your people in the planning process can also create anticipation and
excitement about the show. Discuss ways you can get your best customers and
potential customers to visit. Decide if you will extend a special invitation
to a dinner or reception, or purchase special gifts for special customers.
Consider preparing invitations
for an "in-house" event to be held at your company the week after the show for
local people to come in for a demonstration. Think of how you can make it special
for them so that they'll want to attend. You can also extend the invitation
to your event to interested prospects at the booth.
- Give some thought
before you spend money on giveaways for just anyone who strolls in the booth.
Go ahead and purchase giveaways
if you must, but I've seen too many "souvenir-seekers," and "just-lookers" who
take up your valuable selling time collecting rulers, key chains, pens, pads
of paper, and other popular small items. You might get a bigger bang for your
buck by having nicer usable gifts for special customers and potential customers.
but usable gifts such as a walkman, a toy, funny T-shirt, smokeless ashtray,
or sets of golf balls to use to help with your pre-show promotion that will
entice buyers visit your booth. Be creative when selecting what you buy. Then
invite your best potential and existing customers to your exhibit and let them
know a gift is waiting for them at the booth in their name. (You will want to
be sure these gifts are packaged, and handed to people in a bag so as not to
offend anyone who may not have received one.)
- Spread the word that
you are exhibiting and promote the show.
Many salespeople make the
mistake of relying only on show management and their marketing people to bring
the buyers in. Trade show management's job is to sell booth space and invite
the industry to the trade show. Each sales person must promote to its own customers
and prospects to make it happen for them.
Advertise and offer show-specials.
Make sure credit managers; customer service and technical people promote the
show when communicating with customers in the weeks prior to the show. Have
your sales force make as many appointments as possible with customers and prospects
before the show.
- Train your booth
personnel on trade show selling skills.
Your sales force must help
all booth personnel to learn about the products or services being displayed
to help them generate leads. Then brainstorm every conceivable question attendees
might ask on the show floor. Carefully formulate the questions you want them
to ask to qualify visitors and the sales message you want to convey. Then have
them practice how to deliver information and answer questions concisely and
This is especially important
for technicians, service people, or receptionists who may be part of your booth
staff, but have not had any sales training. You will need their help during
peak hours when your sales force may be occupied. Know about your competitors'
product and be able to state why yours is better. Be sure you have a lead-handling
plan and that everyone knows how it will work.
At the show...
- Meet, greet, qualify
and interest people fast.
Don't wait. Initiate! Extend
your hand and greet the visitor. Small talk for a few seconds, then ask a question
to qualify the person before discussing your products or services, i.e. "What
are your needs?" Try to not spend more than five minutes with any one prospect
during peak show hours unless they are genuinely interested. Be sure to record
the customer's level of interest, purchasing influence, budget, and specific
application, time frames and phone number.
- Make visitors feel
Be sure to shake hands,
maintain eye-contact, and ask questions to all individuals who may come as a
group from the same company to visit your booth. Don't make the mistake of paying
more attention to the decision maker only. You need to make a positive impression
If you are expecting an
important customer or potential customer, an easel with a sign that says, "Welcome...
Joe Smith, XYZ COMPANY," is a really nice touch. Introduce interested prospects
to upper-level management and service people. All of these help to build relationships.
And be sure to display professionalism in every aspect of the business process.
- Deliver an enthusiastic
You must make buyers feel
the same enthusiasm for your product as you do. The excitement of being in the
trade show atmosphere will often help you in this area because of all the activity
- Be sensitive and
"in tune" with how your customer is reacting. Know when to talk. Know when
to talk, know when to listen. Know when to shift gears!
Visitors' attention span
will be limited. They may be jet-lagged and fatigued, and they will want to
visit other booths at the show. Remember your main purpose of exhibiting in
a trade show is to generate leads.
- Get some type of
Bring your calendar and
set up appointments with customers while they are at the show. If however, you
have a customer who is ready to buy...
Most salespeople don't do
this, which is a mistake, but in many instances you can, and should close business
on the trade show floor. Remember sound confident and relaxed, then - "Ask for
- Be ready for fast
follow-up after the show.
If you go back to business
as usual after the show, or become overwhelmed with to-dos, phone calls, and
back-mail, you will miss the boat. Don't wait. Follow up no longer than three
days after the show with strong leads. Phone and set up an appointment or demo
and fax or E-mail a recap of what you discussed. Let them know why they should
do business with your company, and why your product will benefit them.
Exhibiting at a trade show
can be a costly and labor-intensive venture for booth space, displays, marketing
materials, travel expenses, etc. Despite the costs, if you properly plan for
the event, are creative with your sales and marketing strategy, are efficient
and make a positive impression on the trade show floor, and do a fast follow-up
afterwards, your results will far surpass the investment.