Maximizing Trade Show Results By Combining Showmanship With Salesmanship

Want your next trade show to be more memorable? Want your message to be on the minds of attendees long after that initial impression is over? Want management to recognize the efforts you’re putting into making your trade show marketing program effective? If so, you need to add a dash of showmanship to your salesmanship.

Custom Island Exhibit with Adjustable LED Lighting, Custom Counters, Storage, and Monitor Stand2

Custom Island Exhibit with Adjustable LED Lighting, Custom Counters, Storage, and Monitor Stands

You do incorporate salesmanship into your exhibits, don’t you? In case you’re asking, “What’s salesmanship?” or blithely saying, “Oh, sure we do,” we won’t assume you’ve tackled all the ins and outs of both elements, so we’ll deal with each in this article. Stitching both of these elements into your exhibit marketing program will create a much more memorable, effective and efficient means of reaching trade show visitors.

If yours is like most companies, you understand sales much better than the elements of showmanship which make sales much more successful. The dictionary defines “salesmanship” as:

  1. The technique of selling a product: They used a promotional gimmick that was the last word in salesmanship.
  2. Adeptness at creating interest in new ideas, products, methods, etc.: The only ingredient lacking in the system was salesmanship.
  3. It’s those techniques, and adeptness at using them, that make salesmanship successful. Anyone can ask, “Do you want to buy this?” but it takes unique talents to get someone to think they want—no, need—the product or service you’re exhibiting in your trade show booth.

The fastest way to ensure your staff understands the finer points of salesmanship is to work with a sales trainer who can educate your team in the tools used on the show floor. The same skills used to sell life insurance or dog food aren’t easily applied on the convention floor. A sales trainer knows the techniques that work in the unique environment of an exhibit hall.

But if you can’t get a sales trainer involved, for whatever reasons, remember that people come to a trade show to be marketed to. They’re at the show for the purpose of finding (and buying) solutions to their problems. Soft selling doesn’t work. You need to rid yourself and everyone else in your display stand of every shred of shyness and learn to ask closing questions of all booth visitors.

Now, showmanship is a different animal altogether. It’s what separates simply marketing a product or service from making a memorable, persuasive statement about what you’re selling. Back to the dictionary for a definition:  “A person gifted in doing or presenting things theatrically or dramatically: She didn’t have much of a voice, but she was a great showman.”

We’ve all seen this in the world of show business: performers who might not hit every note just perfectly or get big laughs with every joke, but they “own” the stage, and give the impression they know exactly what feelings they want you to experience. You know you’re in expert hands when you’re in the presence of such entertainers.

LED Backlit Tower with (4) Custom Accent Lighting Product Kiosks

LED Backlit Tower with (4) Custom Accent Lighting Product Kiosks

So how can you incorporate the elements of showmanship into your sales efforts? It’s not simple or easy, but it can make the difference between just being present, and being the standout exhibit at the show.

Three primary elements of showmanship you can weave into the sales message you communicate to your show visitors are:

  1. Make it emotional
  2. Make it memorable
  3. Make it personal

You make it emotional by appealing to the feelings of your prospects. You want them to purchase your telephone system? Tell them how all its convenient features will make them feel more in control and productive once they own it. Get them into the head space they’d be in if they already had your product or service. You do this by planning—in advance—how you’ll create this sensation in the minds of your booth visitors. Think it through, and work to create word pictures that resonate with attendees to make them want what you’re selling.

You make it memorable by doing something other exhibitors aren’t doing, such as a unique pre-show mailing that draws attention to your participation in the show. Consider a two-piece premium, such as a set of custom cufflinks intended for your best customers and hottest prospects. Send a package with a compelling sales letter and one of the cufflinks, along with an invitation to visit your exhibit to pick up the second. A crowd of invited guests at your booth, waiting to receive their cufflink, will generate even more interest on the show floor, raising the memorability factor of your exhibit.

It becomes personal when you communicate your message to individuals, not to nameless, faceless “buyers.” On the show floor, everyone in your booth should be able to explain how your product or service works in different ways for different individuals who visit your booth. By asking what business your prospects are in, staffers can offer specific applications of your product or services to those individuals.

There you have it: three ways to build showmanship into your salesmanship efforts, to increase the effectiveness of your trade show marketing efforts. I hope you’ll take these suggestions to heart and really give your trade show booth sales strategy a critical eye, looking for ways to increase the emotional appeal, memorability and personal approach. Doing so will definitely improve your results at every show.

What are you doing to make your trade show booth design emotionally powerful, memorable and personal? Blending showmanship with your salesmanship efforts will multiply your effectiveness on the show floor. And we can help. Part of the solution is creating an exhibit that helps attract attention and gets your message heard, understood and remembered. Talk with us about how we can help you create a trade show exhibit that supports your marketing efforts. Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].

For more, check out our article on finding your voice at trade shows or our general 20 trade show tips.