Trade show staff should know your products and services inside out !
Always ensure that you agree on guidelines for interacting with trade show visitors and qualifying customers
You should always ensure that you agree on guidelines for interacting with trade show visitors and qualifying customers. What makes successful exhibitors are their trade show staff and how they apply pre-determined qualification criteria to all prospects who visit their booth. Doing this enables them to prioritize their follow-up efforts on prospects meeting their initial qualifying criteria.
Make sure that your trade show staff is aware of how important it is to qualify the visitor. If filling out a request for further information or literature form, the salesperson should speak to visitors and help them complete the forms. They should judiciously ask enough questions to give visitors a rating as a prospect. Ask them to indicate what products interest them and whether their need is general or specific.
Also, whether their demand is immediate or in the future and the job function or job title of the prospect. Under no circumstances should trade show booth staff confront a visitor by saying “Can I help you?” This has to be one occasion when a closed question should never be used. Open questions that show interest and stimulate a response will enable your salesperson to develop a conversation. When a salesperson asks “May I help you?” the most common response is “No, just looking.” Trade show staff should always ask the visitors how they are familiar with your product or company and what created the interest.
By asking these questions, visitors are more willing to share information with you. For example, ask:” Are you more interested in our domestic or industrial range for this year?” “Would you mind giving me your opinion on ………?” At the early stage of the conversation do not risk a question that might be answered in the negative, for example…”Do you like our new color range?”
Equally, you should wait before asking questions like “Are you in the wholesale or retail trade?” Ensure that you let your trade show staff, particularly your salespersons, that being at the trade show is profitable for them as well as to the company. It’s also important to encourage and train your booth staff to be empathic listeners.
By having good listeners on your booth you will increase your exhibit effectiveness, as attendees will feel heard, understood and comforted. By letting the attendee know you understand his or her problem or situation it opens up lines of communication encouraging the attendee to elaborate and establishes rapport between the attendee and your salesperson. For example, you could say: “Let me see whether I’ve got this….” or “I hear what you’re saying ” or “Sounds like you need… “ A mistake often made by new exhibitors is that they give the prospects information on what to buy and leave it at that.
After the event they return to the office and wait for phone calls to complete the sale. When you speak to prospects at trade shows, the emphasis should be creating an interest and a desire to learn more. In other words, get the prospect involved in your presentation and develop a rapport with your visitor, which makes follow-up more efficient and effective. Trade show booth staff should always avoid insincere questions such as “How are you today?” or “Can I help you?” Again, absolutely avoid practices such as “please fill out this card and we will send you more information”. Get the prospects’ attention, and then generate interest in what you have to offer and then create the desire to learn more.
by Ken MacKenzie –
Ken MacKenzie is a former Senior Consultant with International Public Relations and Marketing Manager with a U.S. Trade Center. He is the author of The Trade Show Edge