We all know how important Trade shows have become in the Marketing Mix of many companies. While it is unlikely that you and your company neglect to take ALL of these important steps, if you have been to enough Trade Shows, you know that most companies have neglected at least some of them.
1. Neglecting to Commit to SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES.
How long in advance do you plan your trade shows? Likely, MONTHS in advance. But that is mostly planning the booth space, the layout. It is generally not preparing the people who will work the booth. Not defining the goals of the show for you and your company. Not getting those people in synch with those goals.
2. Neglecting to Draw People into the Booth.
The look of the booth, the placement of the booth, the displays, maybe even contests or drawings.... those are important. But here I’m focusing on the people working the booth for you. Here I’m talking about Professionalism, Body Language, being relaxed yet “assertive” (not pouncing). Making eye contact, being friendly. Starting with the right questions. “Can I help you?”, doesn’t work in the retail store, and it certainly won’t work here.
3. Neglecting to Separate SUSPECTS from PROSPECTS.
It is vital to PREQUALIFY visitors to your trade show booth. How many times have you seen people making great Trade Show presentations to COMPETITORS or BORED EXHIBITORS because they jump into a presentation every time someone steps near the booth. You’ve got to separate the real prospects from the crowd.
4. Neglecting to ASK QUESTIONS.
Most people working a trade show booth simply talk too much. In order to qualify the guests in your booth, you need to ask excellent questions. Developing a specific set or at least a format for questions will help you figure out which attendees warrant your time and effort.
5. Neglecting to Get a DECISION, even if that means getting a “NO”.
We’re not talking about a buying decision here. But after a few minutes of discussion, it makes sense to have this kind of dialog with the prospect: “We know how hectic these trade shows are, but it certainly appears that there might be a match between some of your problems or issues and my company’s products or services. Does it make sense for us to talk further after the show? How is the best way for us to set that up?” If the prospect can get to that level of decision, you have a much more qualified lead. It’s worth the risk of having the prospect say, “NO.”
6. Neglecting to Adjust Outside Selling Style to Trade Show Selling.
PACE is often a problem at trade shows for two reason. First, attendees are usually in a hurry, and second, YOU want to touch as many as you can without pushing people away. Your normal leisurely, consultative approach, whatever SYSTEM you usually use, may not work well at on the Trade Show floor. Using the questions we talked about developing, you can quickly get the prospect to talk about what he or she needs, and to identify when they see themselves doing something about that need.
7. Neglecting to Do More than Just “Put in Their Time”.
Have you ever seen exhibitors just hanging around at a show, like 5th graders waiting for the bell to ring? Why do they act that way? They are NOT MOTIVATED. They DON’T UNDERSTAND THE OBJECTIVES. They WEREN’T INVOLVED IN THE PLANNING. Get them involved, and they’ll be motivated to really WORK the show.
8. Neglecting to plan for the FOLLOW-UP after the show.
The trade show ends, and there’s a huge sigh of relief. Don’t forget that NOW the rest of the work should begin -- the work of bringing in the Return on Investment. Hopefully you have some good qualified leads. NOW go out and turn it into REAL business.