By now, many of you have been to or hosted a booth at a trade show. When your company first tells you that you will be attending one, what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Are your thoughts positive, where you feel excited to be able to network and make contacts that may become a future sale? Or are your thoughts more negative in nature -where you are thinking about how crowded, annoying and boring they are, and how little the booth attendees really care who is walking buy.
Truth is, you have probably felt all of these thoughts at some point or another. A driven salesperson will look at every trade show as a treasure waiting to be discovered, because every person attending that trade show has the potential to be a future client. The hard part is getting their attention at that moment, by bringing something unique and different to the table, that will ultimately leave them wanting to speak with you again in the future.
With so much business being done via internet websites, emails, teleconferencing, etc., I feel that attending a trade show is extremely beneficial, as it allows for the all important "face to face" communication and interaction that is so important when meeting people for the first time. Maybe I am old school in this way of thinking, but I truly believe that the first contact you have with a potential new client should be done in person. You need for them to see who you are,while representing your company to the best of your ability, so that they can get a good feeling as to whether of not you both "fit". How you present yourself – enthusiastic and upbeat and knowledgeable, versus someone who is non-motivated, an introvert and who is stumbling over their words – is going to make someone decide whether you are worth their time or not. And, this conclusion will be formulated in a matter of seconds.
And these shows are not cheap! Companies invest large amounts of money in these trade show, with less than adequate results.
First and foremost above everything else, you must have your best salespeople manning your trade show booth.
Jumping back a bit, you also have to keep in mind that preparing for a trade show begins months before the show is set to take place. You must establish pre-show traffic building – get on LinkedIn, Facebook – whatever method of social media you prefer, and advertise that you will be attending this show. Also, check with the center that will be hosting the trade show – are they doing their part to advertise it, as well?
Bring twice as many business cards as you think you will need. So many times I have gone to booths and they have run out of cards. This is embarrassing, and shows that you do not even have enough sense to come prepared – is this the impression you want to leave with someone about you?
Upon seeing someone walk by, think of ways to connect with this person. Ask engaging questions to get them to stay and talk, such as, "So what does (say the name of their company" do?" Make it about them, before you talk too much about yourself and what you have to offer.
There is so much more about trade shows to cover, but these are the bare minimum criteria that you should follow. Always put your best foot forward, and never take the opportunity to find a lead for granted.
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