Sales Strategies for Trade Show Booths

The major difference between traditional corporate selling and trade show selling is the climate.

The trade show floor is a unique and unconventional environment. If your salespeople don’t adjust to that changed environment, no amount of strategizing will help you overcome that hurdle.

The trade show floor is a unique and unconventional environment. Click To Tweet

We’ve spoken at length in other columns about the value of booth staff training. And if you’ve got more than two or three people working your trade show booth, it’s definitely worth the investment.

But even without bringing in professional trainers, your staffers can benefit from making a plan of attack that can maximize everyone’s effectiveness, both in the trade show booth and on the show floor. Your staffers should plan to accomplish five things while they’re on the show floor:

Backlit eco-friendly modular trade show display

Backlit eco-friendly modular trade show displRe-establish

  • Re-establish
  • Refresh
  • Request
  • Rendezvous
  • Research

Here’s how each of those elements fits into your trade show strategy:

First, you’ve got to re-establish relationships with former customers.

Before you can do this, however, you need to know why they’re a “former” customer.

If you do your homework and discover what happened that made them choose another supplier, you’ll be in a great position to know how to do what’s necessary to win their business back.

Second, refresh your relationships with existing customers.

There’s a good chance these people may only know you as a voice on the phone.

Let them get to know you as a person, and you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate with them in future business dealings.

Third, request appointments with a specific number of targeted prospects.

Treat these meetings like sales calls.

Arrange them well in advance of the show, and contact each prospect before the first day of the show to remind them of your planned meeting, either on the show floor or in a hospitality suite.

Fourth, rendezvous with the market.

Ask questions and listen to what customers are thinking and feeling about the current state of their businesses.

Don’t problem solve right then and there, but keep any ideas you have for how you can help in your back pocket.

When you get a chance to meet with these people one-on-one, that’s when you can share your ideas and look like a hero.

Finally, the fifth tactic is to research your competition.

In a trade show setting, it’s OK to be bold.

Don’t loiter around other trade show booths all day like a felon, but try to identify some people who’ve met with your competitors and look for an opportunity for you two to cross paths.

Ask them what they thought of your competitor’s product or service.

Your goal isn’t necessarily to sell that person on what you offer; you just want to take the temperature of your competition to see what you’re up against.

If you know someone who works for your competitor, ask him or her how they see their company’s strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a trade show team (meaning more than one of you working the show floor), make it part of your strategy to meet at the beginning and end of each day to share what you’ve learned and plan what each of you will do during that day to accomplish your overall goals.

Xpressions Connex Trade Show Pop Up Display Kit 20x20B

Xpressions Connex Trade Show Pop Up Display Kit 20x20B

There’s another component of a winning trade show strategy that the best show floor salespeople know: how to separate the interested prospects from the tire kickers.

Remember, your time on the show floor is limited, and people who aren’t prospects are potentially wasting that time.

You don’t want to be rude, but you do need to be determined in your efforts to invest that time with the most productive contacts.

If you’re sharing your company’s story with everyone who stops in front of your booth, you’ll do two things: one, you’ll wear yourself out, and two, you’ll miss out on talking to real prospects because you haven’t qualified the people you’re talking to.

You and your staff should learn to ask qualifying questions so you can “thin the herd” and focus your efforts on those attendees who deserve your time and attention.

Qualifying questions can be brief and direct on the show floor.

Why? Attendees are there looking for an answer to their problems.

If you have that, they’ll be happy to talk with you.

If you don’t have the solution they’re looking for, you’re wasting your time and theirs.

Don’t bother with “Can I help you?” or “How are you today?”

Instead, get right into the meat of the discussion with questions to pin down who you’re talking with, where they’re from, what objectives they have for this show, the specific product or service they’re looking for, and any challenges they may be experiencing.

If their answers are promising, highlight the features and benefits of your offering and focus their attention on the problems your product or service can solve.

Follow up with open-ended questions to determine their budget authority and role in the decision-making process.

If they have the budget, the need and the authority to do business with you, ask when they’ll be making the purchasing decision.

Next, begin your trial closing with questions like “Is there anything else you’d like to know about our product?” and “What do you see as the next step?”

If you feel comfortable at this stage of the negotiation, continue closing with “Can I call you in a few days to schedule an appointment, or can we compare calendars now?”

Enter the prospect’s information on your lead form, or scan their badge and make notes immediately. Conclude the conversation on an upbeat note, thank them for stopping by and remind them that you’ll be following up at the appropriate time. Give them your business card so they can contact you if they have any questions.

Here’s the final element of a good trade show strategy: selling on the show floor can be helped or hindered by the design of your trade show booth. If what you’re using now isn’t helping you close sales, let’s talk about how we can design a new booth that gives you all the tools you need to market your company effectively. Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].

For more, read on how to stay sane in your booth or our article on visitor tracking.

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