10 Tips for Selling at Trade Shows


Booth duty at trade shows is a part of many of our jobs. So how is it done in a professional and helpful way? And, no it should not be a re-enactment of the movie Jaws.

Here is what I have learned from my experience and from my colleagues.
  1. Schedule Appointments Pre-Show: Before you go to the show be sure to call or email your friends, prospects, and members and invite them to come by the booth. Provide them with your booth number.
  2. Arrange Booth Traffic Pattern: Once the show starts, position yourself at the corner of the booth leaving a clear view of your booth message. Have your give-away (candy, gift, brochure) in the center of your booth, welcoming the entrance of your visitor.
  3. Initiate Interaction: Reach out to people who pass by the booth and connect to them by asking an openning question like, “Do you do engineering (fill in with your profession or field) work for your company?"
  4. Qualify Contact: Everyone is short on time at a trade show. There are many booths your visitor wants to see. So maximize everyone’s time with qualifying questions to see if your visitor is a decision maker for your product or service.
  5. Identify Problems or Pain: Go deeper with qualified decision makers. Ask questions to see what particular issues or challenges are present.
  6. Present Value Proposition: Provide a short, crisp outline of how you help with the particular problems that have been discussed. Your value proposition might sound something like, “We have members with that same challenge and they find that we help them by. . .”
  7. Obtain Contact Information: Most trade show sales take place well after the show. To get back in touch for a sale, you need to collect follow up information. A business card is the easiest way to get contact information.
  8. Agree on Next Steps: Get permission and agreement from your qualified prospect to follow up with them. This may be as simple as agreeing to send additional information. Write a note on the back of their business card with the action you need to take.
  9. Ask for Referral: Before a qualified prospect leaves you, be sure to ask them to send other attendees your way who might have similar needs. Ask them, “Who else do you know that might be helped by our services?”
  10. Prepare Follow Up Materials: Before you leave for the show, you should have your follow up materials assembled and ready to go. When you return, personalize your response with the agreed upon next steps and fulfill the request within days of your return.

Feel free to add any tips you have in the comments section. Also, I am curious to hear what you have seen done poorly at trade shows. We could come up with a top 10 list of what not to do.

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