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  • Aug 09, 2023
  • Write by Author Name
  • Aug 09, 2023

The Art of Trade Show Selling: How to Increase Sales at Trade Shows, Conference, and Exhibitions

Trade show selling, like every other type of sales, is as much an art as it is a science.  This particular sales arena merges cold selling with a consumer base that is in search of answers to their problems.  If the proper research was done to determine which show(s) to attend, half of the battle is already behind you, and that is being relevant.  It is a near guarantee that a good portion of the attendees at an industry based show are already in search of your product or similar solutions, which makes the sales process easier than a typical cold selling situation.  The proceeding pointers when used together will help increase engagement, booth traffic, staff morale and ultimately sales.

1 – Determine Your Goals Before Trying to Solve Others’

What does your company want to gain from exhibiting?  Is it leads, meetings, branding, etc.  This should be determined before even booking a space at the show.  Clear goals set by management will translate into a common understanding and purpose for the trade show staff.  When a company determines what it wants to gain, and communicates this purpose to its trade show team, it becomes much easier to make these goals a reality.  Conversely, if there are no set expectations, how are the representatives supposed to know what to shoot for?  Set clear goals and objectives, communicate them, and you will see an improvement in morale and follow through.

2 – Outlook is Everything

As a trade show staff member, it is very important to understand and believe that every attendee is a potential client until proven otherwise.  The company is exhibiting at a show that’s focal point is in some way related to the product or service that you are selling (Again, if the proper research was done when selecting shows).  This means the attendees came to the show to find vendors, meet strategic partners, monitor competition, find new ideas, or to identify trends and innovations within the industry.  If a trade show team can maintain the outlook that every attendee would be interested in their product offering, it makes the initial contact and engagement easier and more genuine.  Instead of approaching people trying to “sell” them on your products, engage them.  Use probing questions to find out their purpose at the show and build on this friendly communication by introducing your product or service in a way that can satisfy their needs.

3 – Three A’s: Attractive, Approachable, Attentive

It’s should come as no surprise that people enjoy attractive things, yet there are still so many unsightly exhibitions on the trade show floor.  However, what is important is that there are multiple types of attraction.  Having a gorgeous booth will certainly increase your appeal, but the most effective type of attraction is human interest.  If there is a crowd around your booth and people are having a good time, human nature will take over and draw more attendees to the party.  Use giveaways, contents or whatever else it takes to get a crowd to your booth, partner this with a great exhibit design and your booth will be an attractive destination on the show floor.

Also, having an approachable and attentive staff is crucial.  Appearing friendly and open will help attendees feel comfortable when approaching your space; being attentive will ensure that no potential business opportunities are missed.  If you succeed at creating an attractive environment, it can get quite busy.  Have trade show talent that can engage the attendees they are speaking with while simultaneously monitoring for those lingering on the outskirts.  The indecisive passer-by who slowed to look at your space is another potential prospect.  Having the attentiveness to pick up on these attendees can add up to a significant increase in leads that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

4 – People Want to Buy, Not be Sold

In the wise words of Jeffrey Gitomer, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.”  Isn’t that the truth!  This is a simple concept that can be difficult to execute and takes a lot of practice.  No one ever approaches a booth thinking, “I really hope these sales people will persuade me into purchasing their product”.  Their thought process is more along the lines of “If I can find a way to increase sales while cutting costs my boss will be thrilled”.   Therein lies the solution to your “selling” problem.  If your team can find the inherent reason(s) the attendee is at your booth, and introduce your product around those wants and needs, your visitors will not need to be sold they will want to buy.

5 – Polish Your Pitch

People are in a hurry, and although engaging attendees with thought provoking questions is the correct approach, it is necessary to have your “pitch” locked and loaded.  This pre-rehearsed selling point should be no more than 30 seconds long and pack the same punch as a verbal PowerPoint presentation.  You need to be able to communicate in under 30 seconds why your product will satisfy the customer’s needs better than any of your competitors.  Having a well thought out pitch can quickly establish credibility and the engagement that surrounds it builds rapport.  The combination of these two elements leads to effective selling.

6 – Probe With the “Right” Questions

It is always about the customer, all the time.  People love to talk about themselves, and let them do just that.  The more “probing” questions that your team asks, the more your booth visitors will open up.  The right questions will not only allow your staff to connect on a personal level and establish trust, but to uncover their true reason for attending.  This will become a very valuable bit of information in Tip #7.  Some examples of probing questions include:

  • What have you found to be the most interesting at the show thus far?
  • What sort of business are you in?
  • What drew you to event x?

7 – Quality over Quantity

Generating 10 qualified leads is more important than 500 unqualified ones.  You can achieve this by building off of the probing questions in Tip #6.  You ask these questions in an attempt to qualify booth visitors, and to do it as quickly as possible.  This is not to say that you ignore prospects that seem to be unqualified, but instead to focus more attention on those that show promise.  Use the probing questions and the subsequent answers to categorize your visitors then tailor your responses accordingly.  If the prospect appears to have the characteristics of an ideal prospect as established in Tip #1, they should receive different responses than someone who evidently will never be a qualified candidate.

Combined, these seven tips will drastically increase your trade show sales.

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