Five surefire secrets to get the most from your trade show booth

When I attend trades shows I see a number of mistakes sales people and companies make. Their fishbowl is full of business cards, but no business on the backend. Let’s face it, most salespeople hate occupying a booth at a trade show and see it as a necessary evil. Below are some steps ( and there are many more beyond this list) to consider in order to make your companies trade show experience more enjoyable and worth the investment in time and money.

#1 Set realistic goals.
What value do you hope to generate at your booth? Is it realistic to expect such outcomes?
• How large a mailing list do you hope to create from visitors?
• How many “realistic” leads or referrals will you generate? Are they “real ” prospects or “suspects ” who want what you give away for free that day??
• How many potential sales calls will you make after the show?
• How many potential sales will you close?

#2 Educate and motivate booth personnel.
Make sure exhibitors have this knowledge:
• Why this particular show was chosen and it roles in the firm’s marketing strategy.
• The specific selling goals for the show.
• Why they were selected make this a successful show–they are like stars in a Broadway play.
• The kinds of people likely to arrive and the names of specific VIP customers to fawn over.
• How to demonstrate products or services and answer the most common questions.
• Details of special offers.
• Knowledge about competitors–particularly those at the show.

#3 Greet visitors in the right way.
Make sure exhibitors follow these do’s and don’ts of booth behaviors.
• Don’t sit down, look bored, read, or play with your laptop.
• Don’t assume the “executioner stance” (arms folded over chest).
• Don’t impersonate the ” carnival barker” (ready to grab people and pull them into the booth).
• Don’t nag visitors with a version of the old retail store opening, “May I help you?”
• Don’t eat or drink. If you have a drink, keep it out of sight.
• Don’t carry on private conversations with fellow salespeople or those in the next both.
• Do have the booth covered at all times.
• Do dress in a manner consistent with your company’s image.
• Do put chairs outside your booth for visitors who may want to sit down with you to talk.
• Do engage visitors with traffic-stopping questions such as, “did you stop here earlier?” and “Have you ever exhibited at this show?” and “What does that decal signify on your badge?
• Do ask questions to stimulate conversation and to learn if visitors have any reason to be interested in your product. (“does your current software program enable you to . . .?”)
• Do limit your talking so that visitors can tell you what they want in a hurry.
• Do stop telling your story to visitors who are not potential buyers so you can move on to the next person.

#4 Follow up.
Make the most of your trade show investment by following up right away with the people you meet. Most important, get permission to follow-up and that the person “will” accept a phone call from you. That follow-up may be a telephone call, mail, e-mail, or all three. Respond in the manner, and with the material, appropriate to your product. Move each visiting buyer close to becoming a customer.

#5 Evaluate.
Monitor the effectiveness of your booth daily. If results are not what were expected, take corrective action on the spot. After the show, assess how well you attained each of your pre-sow goals. Make decisions for future show participation. Will you exhibit again? At this show? What changes in show strategy are indicated?

A trade show is an opportunity to see people, shake hands, pass out business cards, and talk about your product to hundreds of potential buyers at one time an in one place. You might even have a chance to solve problems and close sales. But I want you to think bigger than this. Why not stick out above your competitors? Consider the ways — some costly and not so costly — to have a memorable trade show presence.
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Categories: Company Perspectives, Sales & Marketing