How to Engage Walk-Up Visitors At Trade Shows
Out of all the ways you can leverage your expo displays to impress people and reel in new clients, none is ever going to replace plain ol’ face time. (Not even Apple FaceTime.)
There are probably no leads that are going to be better-qualified than those you’re vetting in person, when you can give them your full attention.
Virtual trade shows are nifty and all, but they’ll never be able to entirely replicate the added details and dimensions of in-person interactions that get lost in translation to smartphone screens.
So, let’s talk people skills today, and discuss some techniques for making sure you and your exposition staff make the best impression every time.
Six Tips For Reeling In Plenty Of In-Person Leads At Your Expo Displays
1. Include a mix of personalities in your staff.
I’ve noticed that lots of companies tend to include staff who are almost entirely cheerleader types – loud, brash, outgoing, go-getter sorts. While the reasons for this are understandable, keep in mind that some people are intimidated or “turned off” by strong alpha personalities, especially introverts.
Having at least a couple staff members who are more quiet and plain-spoken working your trade show booth is often a great way to broaden the reach of your message. More laid-back people can recognize their own, and know how to approach each other – as well as when to wait for them to come ask questions.
Master sales staff can spot all types and adjust their techniques to match, but otherwise, bringing a mix of people to staff your convention displays will also bring a lot of new ideas and approaches towards presenting your materials.
2. Be nice to your competition.
It may be tempting to use the convention as an opportunity to get in some potshots at the competition, but don’t take the low road. Tell the staff working in your expo displays to alwayskeep things positive and upbeat. Don’t bring along that one guy with the snarky sense of humor. Grit your teeth and think of something nice to say if asked about your competition.
In a forum as large as a trade show, you’re expected to be gracious for the sake of appearances. Beyond that, however, being honest and positive about your competition is extremely impressive to a lot of potential buyers. Buyers these days are less impressed with outright propaganda, and many become uncomfortable when encountering negative comments and potshots. Take the high road – being honest and showing that your staff has a realistic grasp of the competition makes your company appear much more trustworthy and reliable.
3. Let your visitors talk.
If some of your staff gets a bit over-enthusiastic, it can seem like they swallowed a tech manual as they drown trade show visitors in facts and figures. Impressive stats are something like spice in a sales pitch – to be used sparingly throughout to keep and maintain their interest.
People want to talk. Letting the visitor do most of the talking – at least at first – helps establish a bond between you and the visitor. Plus, if they talk and you listen, you’ll usually find out all you need to know to give them solid advice.
Staff that know how to ask good questions and nod politely while taking mental notes are the ones who’ll be bringing in the best leads. When a visitor in your booth feels like their needs are actually understood, they’re going to be far more interested in the pitch that follows.
4. Stay off the gadgets.
Unless a staff member is on break and far away from the expo booth, there shouldn’t be a mobile device in their hand – the only exception is if there’s a business-specific reason for it. A trade show display where half the staff are thumbing away at their phones is one that looks unfocused. It also discourages people from walking up.
Even during down time, your staff should be on their feet as much as possible, looking happy to be there, actively reaching out to people walking by.
5. Remove “I Don’t Know” From Your Staff’s Vocabulary
One trend I’ve noted before that I really don’t like is companies -even some of the largest firms- setting up expo displays that have as much content as a Hollywood “teaser” trailer. They send their staff with virtually no information beyond what’s in the distributed materials, because that’s all that anyone wants to say about the product.
While positioning is all well and good, trade shows are also about being open and public and presenting information. Staff should be well-versed on your products and, if possible, you should have someone on standby off-site who’s ready to research and respond quickly to more difficult questions as they come in.
The lead who walks away feeling like they’ve gotten all their questions answered is going to remember you when the time comes.
6. Stay On Target
A certain amount of schmoozing is necessary at any trade show, but discussions of last night’s game that go on for more than a minute or so are probably getting off-track. By and large, conversations actually happening inside your expo displays should be focused on business, without too much idle chit-chat.
This also cuts down on the extraneous networking being done by some of your more career-focused staff.
Now, some visitors want to chat. It’s a tricky balance, but every now and then, try to guide them back towards topics that involve you selling something – or at least learning something more about their problems or even your competition. And, at worst, don’t be afraid to cut ties and go help someone else if it’s clear the conversation’s going nowhere.
That said, more trade shows are adding additional gardens or other casual meeting grounds, which are perfect places for more extended getting-to-know-you meetings. If you have a lead who’s impressed with your initial pitch, the common area may be the perfect spot for keeping things going.
Keep Looking For More Ways To Bring Leads Into Your Trade Show Displays!
There’s a lot of different types of people at trade shows, and a lot of different ways of turning them into leads. Whether you’re impressing them with a personalized iPad-based demonstration of your product, or slowly convincing a shy visitor to tell you what he’s looking for, people skills are what truly make the difference at trade shows.