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What's the Biggest Single Change Some Exhibitors Could Make to Move More
Prospects Closer to a Sale?
Exhibitors could make their "main differentiating benefit" the
most prominent message in all they display or discuss.
Are exhibitors giving their prospects what they most need to know to close
a sale? How can they help attendees make an informed choice and act sooner?.
How many steps do even "warm" buyers have take to complete the
sale, from signing to delivery through possible training on the use of
the product? Can exhibitors not only take steps to make buyers happy with
their decisions, but also to be heroes among their colleagues so they
will tell others and buy again?
After walking through 68 trade and exhibit shows prior to speaking to
exhibitors, I've been surprised to see that less than 10 percent of the
exhibitors make their top message the one prospective buyers need most
to know: the main differentiating benefit between their product or service
and that of the top two or three alternative vendors, as the prospect
most probably views their options.
Instead, exhibits and promotional materials usually give more prominence
to the product and or the company name.
Attendees rarely see or hear about an exhibitor's main benefit first.
Benefits rarely "jump out" at attendees from the booth or collateral
messages or the staff's explanation. Thus, exhibitors inadvertently hide
their biggest benefit.
In most cases, features (how a product is constructed or its "capacity"
or how it is operated) are still promoted more heavily than the benefits
(what it does for the customer). This is not customer-centered, thoughtful
marketing. The prospect has to do more work to make a fair comparison.
Exhibitors can offer succinct, specific, and easy-to-follow comparison
sheets that do not insult the competition. One comparison sheet might
"headline" the major benefits. Other back-up sheets can provide
more detailed comparisons. Put a "human face" on the facts by
providing customers' situational examples to illustrate the benefits.
Plus, staff often attempt to build traffic to their booth with contests,
drawings, or giveaway gadgets that don't relate to their main, differentiating
benefit or even their product, so they don't get closer to their hottest
Further, staff's icebreaker comments are often general and not relevant
to the reason to buy ("Having a good time?" "Want a free
. . .?")
Unfortunately, exhibitor staff often do not get the opportunity to be
involved in the design of their exhibit or promotional materials. They
must accept the setting in which they sell, attempting to engage prospects
as they pass with involving comments that state the main benefits verbally
to attendees in a brief, involving way to pull them in rather than turn
When companies don't make their main benefit easy to see and hear quickly,
attendees must be deeply motivated to look and ask for the essential information
Credible benefit statements increase the chances for a sale. A credible
brand name then reinforces the reason to buy, not the other way around.
Good benefit statements are vivid and specific examples, facts, comparisons.
Passersby are in one of three buying modes:
Seeking information to buy a certain kind of product for the first time
and trying to select the best product
Considering changing vendors if they find a better product
"Trolling": * not buying now but seeing what is new for future
reference * or without the budget or need and will never buy
Serious buyers most want to see and hear information regarding: * the
main reason to buy at all and, if they do buy, * the main reason they
should buy from you over your closest competitors, as they see them.
22 Ways to Attract Serious Buyers
to Your Exhibit and to a Sale
Draft and memorize a one-to-two sentence top "differentiating benefit"
statement, relative to your two closest competitors and without denigrating
Start with the specific benefit, rather than building up to it with general
background, so the listener will listen sooner and longer. The specific
detail ("Product with the fewest parts that need replacement")
proves the general benefit. The general statement ("We are the people
who care") is less credible and less memorable.
Multiply attendees' positive exposures to your benefit in everything you
say, display, point at, stand near, or offer.
Be able to reduce that benefit to its essence in one vivid phrase or sentence.
Make your phrase sufficiently interesting and brief so they feel they're
in charge. They'll be more likely to stay and ask you enough questions
so you can recognize their main interests, level of knowledge, hot buttons,
and decision-making process.
Offer "real life" situational examples. Cite relevant and diverse
customers' experiences. Tell them what your customers actually said.
Give no more than three supportive benefits.
Express each supportive benefit like a headline, a "billboard message"
of no more than five to eight words.
Use everyday, non-jargon, and non-industry-specific language, even if
the attendees might know the jargon.
The most credible proof of your benefits are third-party endorsements
of three diverse customers who have little else in common other than their
adoration of your product and their similarity with your prospect.
Display a satisfied client's quotes under each benefit on the booth and
in promotional material ñ preferably each in a different color
and type face. When endorsements relate to a specific situation, change,
vivid contrast, or improvement, their words are most credible and will
be most memorable.
Yes! Remove all graphics and words in the booth and materials that do
not relate to either the main benefit and (not more than three) supportive
benefits, so attendees will be able to take in the information within
12-15 seconds, their average pause-to-scan time in such conditions.
Display your main point and supportive points on the booth above the tops
of the heads of the booth staff and attendees, so views are not blocked.
Booth visuals and words should guide attendees' eyes down a "path"
from one message to the next.
Avoid opening references to weather, "Having fun?", freebies,
drawings, or other non-benefit-related topics.
and visually make a "Conference Offer": more information; a
time-limited or bundled product order price; consultation; or other vivid
benefit to move them closer to a sale.
An attendeeís attention span is shortened if you wear patterned
or very detailed clothing or accessories (pin, necklace, tie, earrings)
or other busy "body signage," especially on the upper half of
For those who know your product (and you know that they are familiar with
Hand the person a gift (preferably one that does not prominently display
your company or product name), while asking them: "May I give you
this small gift for taking the time to answer two questions for me?"
Then ask, "What do you like best about our product or (service)?"
Whatever is said aloud is then believed more deeply by the speaker.
Be a complete and supportive listener as they explain. Give uninterrupted
eye contact, nod, or offer other responsive gestures that are natural
When they have finished, ask, "Tell me more about that." As
they elaborate, they move the topic closer to the top of their minds and
they also become more: * articulate and vivid * deeply convinced about
the reasons they've stated for liking your product
The result? You've moved them closer to being fervent and articulate fans.
They are more likely to talk themselves closer to a sale and voluntarily
tell others why they like your product.
When you first meet a prospect, find the quality in them you can most
like and admire and keep it uppermost in your mind as you talk with them.
You are more likely to bring out that aspect of their personality when
they are around you and less likely to react to their behaviors that irritate
or otherwise bother you.
When you stand opposite someone, you are more likely to literally oppose
them. Instead, "sidle" whenever possible.
Men instinctively "sidle", when together, shaking hands and
then standing more or less side by side. Women instinctively continue
to face each other or a man. When standing side-by-side, people feel more
comfortable with each other, themselves, and their surroundings. They
listen sooner and longer and are more inclined to agree with each other.
Learn to get people to remember what you say, even if they are not trying
Here are three successful ways to "lodge" your message in their
People remember more and feel more intensely ñ for good and for
bad ñ when they are in motion. Say your main points while turning,
shaking hands, demonstrating a product, pointing to something, when a
part of the booth is in motion, while the visitor is reaching for something.
Here are two guides to what kind of motion is most memorable:
Things are most memorable when you're both in motion, next most memorable
when the other person is in motion even if you aren't, third most memorable
when you are in motion, and fourth most memorable when you are both watching
something or someone in motion.
The more dimensions of motion involved (up, down, left, right, forward,
and back), the more memorable the experience. Ways to involve motion to
reinforce memory include exhibit demonstrations, staff gestures and walking,
video vignettes, parts of the exhibit.
Relate your benefits to their three "core life experiences":
family (theirs, yours, or a metaphorical family of services or products),
where they work or have worked, or where they live or have lived.
refer to one of their currently pressing interests (not your product).
refer to how you two share a common interest in the topic.
And then to how it relates to you and your product's main benefit.
This method is called "Triangling" to agreement: You-Us-Me approach:
Example: 1. "I gather you are the expert in YOU 2. and that by discussing
this with you US 3. I'll get more ideas about if and how our products
can best serve people in your situation ME"
To maintain rapport, use specific, emotion-laden language when stating
the positive, and report the negative neutrally, "just the facts."
Begin your comments with a direct response to their last comment instead
of working up to your response with other background information they
might not want to hear until they feel heard. Characterize your benefits
in direct response to:
a specific, negative "hot button" or problem they've expressed,
which you can make better or solve, or
some strong positive preference the prospect has just expressed.
Closing Summary Tip:
Continuously nurture your best prospects, seeding in their minds your
main and vividly stated differentiating benefit and providing ideas and
help at "non-sales" times. Make every aspect of your behavior,
booth, and promotional material repeat, reflect, and reinforce that benefit
before, during, and right after the conference and later, again to your
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