What do you think is the most important part of your trade show displays
? With the advancement in technology, you might think your best focus should be on technology or social media or even high tech giveaways. However, you would be wrong.
The number one way to increase the return on your trade show participation investment is by making sure your staff is trained, motivated and excited about the event. Sound too simple?
Consider the attendee who walks through a crowded trade show convention hall. Which booth will she enter?
1. The trade show exhibit with sales people huddled around their Smart Phones trying to capture Pokemon?
2. The trade show booth with smiling sales people at the threshold making eye contact and inviting her into their exhibit?
The staffs of both companies are probably talented and successful sales people out in their regular work-a-day world, however, there are a few special talents (easily trained) that set effective trade show sales people apart.
1. Smile/Eye Contact. It literally begins with a smile. It is hard to walk past someone who is openly interested in engaging in conversation. Even just a simple “hey, love your hat” comment is enough to stop the momentum of an attendee who is walking past. There is a lot of competition for the attention of the average attendee. Unless you sell a product they came to the event to purchase, it will require active engagement on the part of your staff to draw them into your booth.
2. Ease of Conversation. Slick sales pitches and canned speeches went out with the door-to-door vacuum sales era. Role play with your sales staff in advance to help them gain confidence in their ability to engage in casual conversation. Starting with a smile and jumping to “would you like to buy my widget” will rarely garner a sale. Encourage your staff to have fun with casual conversation as an opener to more qualifying conversations. There is a fine line between gossiping and building trust, however, the benefits of being friendly and inviting far outweigh the risk of long gab sessions between your staff and attendees.
3. Open Ended Questions. “Would you like to buy my widget?” can only be answered one of two ways and trust me – they will most likely say no. Make sure your staff understands the difference between questions that can only be answered with a yes/no response and those questions that invite conversation. “What brings you to the event today?” is a question that invites conversation and also the opportunity to learn more about the attendee. A few well worded open ended questions will help qualify the attendee to determine if they are a potential prospect for your company. Practice these type of questions with your staff prior to the event so they become comfortable with the process.
4. Listening. Over eager sales people who are quick to judge the viability of a prospect may miss out on subtle clues. Part of your sales training in preparation for your next trade show should include the value of truly listening. One way to listen is by asking follow up questions. “Is there anything else I should know about your company needs?” Attendees who feel they are being listened to will be more likely to want to do business with your company.
5. Product knowledge. Each staff member should be fully versed in the features, advantages and benefits of your product lines. However, they should also understand how the needs of each prospect might be met with your products. Not every product will be a perfect match for every prospect. For those newer employees helping in the booth, make sure they know enough of the right qualifying questions to ask to then connect the prospect with the best sales associate.
6. Juggling Multiple Attendees
. Let’s face it, 10×10 displays
will only hold so many people. Your staff needs to be able to effectively manage multiple prospects at once. TheRetail Doctor
offers a great guide for teaching sales people to hustle (his term for taking care of more than one person at a time):
Ask permission from the first customer.
Greet the other customer.
Get back to the first person quickly and thank them for waiting.
Restate where they were in the sale.
Confirm they got it right.
All the while not rushing anyone.
If a customer comes in while a salesperson is with someone else they should say, “Excuse me, do you mind if I go greet that customer? I’ll be right back.”
Another great method is to give the first prospect something to do while they greet the next person. For example, signing up for a drawing, entering their contact data into a mobile device, watching a product demonstration video.
7. Closing the Conversation.
Although you may not close the sale during the trade show event, your staff will want to learn how to secure a next step commitment from the qualified attendee. Emma Brudner
has written an article offering 11 closing statements
which is worth a read, however, you may want to modify the statements for a trade show event. A few examples are:
- I’ll email you the product files we discussed. Shall I give you a call next Wednesday or Thursday to discuss further?
- Based on our conversation, it sounds like you’ll be ready to make a purchase decision in the next month. How can I help?
- If we extend the show special offer for another thirty days, would you agree to commit to a purchase?
The real return on investment is the number of closed sales and sales opportunities your staff uncover during the trade show event. You don’t get a sale unless you ask for it. Make sure your staff is fully trained on closing techniques.
Bottom Line: Prospects rarely do business with a company. They do business with people. Make sure your trade show staff is ready to positively represent your company by training and motivating them to make the most out of every opportunity.