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Seven Tips to Improve your Trade Show Selling Experience

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In my last post, Six Tips to Leverage Trade Shows as a Sales Prospecting Tool, I discussed ways to adopt a more targeted and strategic approach to leverage this tried-and-true sales prospecting tool.

Now, I want to share seven tips for improving a sales rep’s interactions and overall trade show selling experience while working the booth.

  1. Don’t pounce — I mentioned the issue of pouncing in my previous post, but it’s such an important point that I want to expand my comments. Demeanor and body language while working a trade show booth are critical to attracting people to stop and visit. It’s intimidating to have sales reps standing, arms crossed, and squinting to read the small print of someone’s name tag, clearly ready to pounce on anyone remotely interested in the company. To make sure that people feel comfortable and interested in coming to your booth, your messaging must be clear and engaging, and it must provide the promise of value. Also, as gimmicky as it may seem, good booth giveaways or promotions are important to initially draw people in.If someone comes into the booth and heads straight for the literature rack, without making eye contact, just kindly say, “Please let me know if there are any questions I can answer for you.” Most of the time, that person will engage you after making sure there is a connection with the company. If he/she doesn’t engage after a minute or so, you can ask, “Are you finding everything OK?” Then, you can follow up with, “Would you mind if I scanned your badge?” If that prospect declines, he/she may not be a good fit. Either way, thank the person for stopping by the booth, invite him/her to visit again, or, if someone from your company is giving a presentation, hand the person an overview printout to pique interest in attending that session.
  2. Be consultative — Trade shows provide a small window of time to have a full, meaningful dialogue. Often, the show is noisy, and you may have a lot of people in your booth vying for attention. Avoid the natural inclination to product dump during your conversations. Remain true to the task of engaging in good, consultative dialogue and maintaining a strong needs-based methodology. Build rapport, ask great questions to identify needs, make sure that you truly listen, manage any objections, and position the value of the company.
  3. Take great notes — For a sales rep, one of the pitfalls of attending a trade show is meeting someone, having a fantastic needs dialogue, and then having to turn that lead over to someone else who resides in the territory or “owns” the account. This is typically the biggest objection we at Richardson Sales Performance see regarding aligned trade show participation. What the sales rep needs to have is a pay-it-forward state of mind, meaning what comes around will go round at some point. Reps should not get frustrated when they have a good dialogue and then have to turn over that lead. Just be professional and write up the conversation on a lead form so that the salesperson who does take over will have all of the important and relevant information that was discussed. This will allow for better follow-up and nurturing.
  4. Learn to disengage — One of the hardest things to do at a trade show is disengage from non-prospects. This may sound a bit cold, but often, independent consultants, competitors, and other individuals visit the booth for a number of non-business related reasons, including partnerships and job hunters. Remember, a lot of time and resources go into the planning and execution of a trade show, and your company is there for solid business reasons. Sales reps must quickly establish if a person is a prospect and, if not, politely disengage and move on. Again, it’s not easy, and you don’t want to be rude; you might just ask to connect after the show when things are less hectic.
  5. Ask for referrals — You may meet someone at a trade show who is not a direct prospect but either works with or for your potential prospect. Make sure that you leverage that meeting or dialogue and ask for a referral to your main prospect.
  6. Don’t eat in the booth — During slow times, you may be inclined to grab lunch or eat something in the booth. This is really my #1 no-no. You never know who is going to come by, or when, and you need to be prepared at all times. You can’t have a mouthful of food when someone comes into the booth. It’s important to be professional at all times; if you need to eat, make sure that you have coverage scheduled, and take a break.
  7. Clear your calendar — While at a trade show, make sure that your calendar is cleared during your allotted booth time. There is nothing worse than sales reps having to make a client call during booth time. If, for some reason, you can’t get out of a call, let the booth coordinator know beforehand so that the schedule can be adjusted.
If you are chosen to attend a trade show this season, don’t look at it as a punishment; instead, see it as an opportunity. Be prepared, be engaged, hustle, and network — not only for yourself, but for the entire organization, driving good leads and sales opportunities. It's up to you to have a great trade show selling experience.

Are there any other tips to improve trade show selling experience you would add to the list? Let us know and we can put them on.

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