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Networking, reaching large number of prospects key advantages of participation

Trade show powerful tool for reaching clients, customers

JACKSON — Trade shows are one of the most powerful tools that can be used to reach clients and customers. Because you can visit with more customers and prospects in an hour at a trade show than you would normally see in a week in the field, it is important to be prepared to put your best foot forward.

For the best success, it is helpful for trade shows to be tied to your total marketing program. When linked correctly, that can make trade show an effective and economic method of promoting your business.

Three parts of a trade show help determine success: the attitude and appearance of personnel staffing the booth, the appeal of the booth itself, and the product or service offered. Visiting a trade show condenses the process of evaluating a new service or product by providing access to multiple resources in a short period of time. Access to instant answers helps obtain business solutions and expedites the evaluation process.

Dr. Allen Konopacki, a trade show expert, said trade shows also provide an assembly of resources in one arena and increase the ability to network or make partnerships.

Konopacki says an important consideration is how much time an exhibitor’s sales representative should spend with a visitor. Budgeting time is important. Presentations can consume a lot of time. A way to be more effective in the booth is to utilize smart questions during the presentation to determine if you’re on the right track.

“Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because visitors ask questions that they want a full presentation,” Konopacki said. “Our research has found that 73% of attendees feel most sales presentations take too long. The best way to manage your time is to ask a smart question like, ‘What are the key points you’d like me to cover?’ This guides you, but it also creates a psychological ‘buy’ into the presentation on behalf of the prospect and makes it an interactive versus passive conversation. An effective presentation should be five to seven minutes. After that, you should consider setting up a meeting later in the day.”

The best way to handle multiple visitors is to acknowledge their presence and make them feel like they can listen in. Attendees say many times they approach ongoing discussions and the salespeople never acknowledge them, making them feel like outsiders.

It is recommended that salespeople make eye contact to acknowledge visitors. This suggestion makes sense when you think about how many times you may have been standing in line at a store and the salesclerk never looked at you to let you know you were noticed. Research identifies that 58% of visitors who are not acknowledged within one minute walk away.

A salesperson should use a smile and make eye contact with others to hold their interest and attention. Not all visitors will wait if you’re not available to serve them. But with a little extra effort, you can increase the number who won’t walk out. The secret is in negotiating with both the waiting visitor and the one you’re speaking with.

A proven technique is to ask the person you’re speaking with, ‘Could you help me out? I’d like to let the other person know I will be available later to help.’ You might think that this would trigger a disengagement, but actually it allows you to assess if you could turn it into a multiple presentation. At the very least it provides you with permission to acknowledge other visitors without seeming rude.

Asking ‘Could you help me?’ gives your prospect the power to determine what action to take. Research shows that salespeople who demonstrate politeness are admired and respected. So, if another customer is waiting, ask permission to be able to greet the other person. This increases the effectiveness of the sales process.

Another important consideration is how to motivate booth staff during the show. One suggestion is to have a kick-off meeting that will set the tone for the rest of the show. Make the meeting an event, not a training lecture.

Build little perks into the pre-show meeting, like candy on the table or team kits with supplies that might be needed during the show. Give the meeting room a theme look, and work to build enthusiasm before the staff reaches the show floor.

Booth staffers are motivated by success, not goals. Avoid setting goals for writing a quantity of leads or setting dollar sales volume. This often creates undue pressure and a reason to focus on quantity of contacts instead of quality.

Booth staffers are motivated when they hear about the success that’s being achieved at the booth. Gather together for 20 to 30 minutes each day and give a report on your wins and hits. Telling the team what has been accomplished helps maintain the team’s motivation.

Contact MBJ staff writer Becky Gillette at mullein@datasync.com or (228) 872-3457.

About Becky Gillette

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