25 Do’s & Don’ts For Effective Selling at Trade Shows

25 Do’s & Don’ts For Effective Selling at Trade Shows

I’m not sure I’ve ever met a sales professional who really enjoyed working a trade show or related event. But we have to do them. So we might as well learn to do them well. Here’s my list of 25 do’s and 25 don’ts that I have compiled over many years.
Do:
  • get yourself mentally set for a positive, dynamic selling experience. Trade shows are exciting events full of selling opportunities.
  • get yourself physically fit for standing while you are on duty. Select footwear carefully.
  • get a good night’s sleep. Leave the late-night partying to others.
  • get thoroughly briefed on your staff assignment—attire, work schedule, handouts, visiting VIPs, lead management, etc.—well in advance.
  • rehearse your facts and figures so you can make convincing presentations.
  • formulate some open-ended, qualifying questions.
  • practice the art of continuing to probe with qualifying questions. This technique shows genuine interest and is very informative.
  • ensure that your on-duty wardrobe is in keeping with your booth presentation.
  • look your best when you step on to the show floor—hair groomed, shoes shined, clothes neatly pressed.
  • arrive for your duty several minutes ahead of schedule so you don’t create unnecessary worry for your fellow staffers.
  • stand straight in a relaxed pose with hands clasped or at your side.
  • project a warm personality by wearing a smile and using non-threatening conversation.
  • extend a friendly greeting and initiate a good business-like handshake.
  • be courteous to all visitors, gracefully disengaging from those who are not qualified prospects.
  • concentrate on good eye contact throughout the qualification process.
  • listen actively and intently for hidden needs. Let the prospect do most of the talking.
  • be sincere and honest in your presentation. MOST people can see through inflated claims.
  • display genuine enthusiasm for your organization, its products, and services.
  • put all leads and business cards in a secure place with other leads.
  • keep the booth clean, uncluttered, and well organized.
  • take a short break after every two hours of booth duty. A stale staffer is an ineffective representative.
  • be a good neighbor. Make an effort to get to know the staffers in the booths around you and explain your reasons for attending the show. They may send you prospects or be prospects themselves.
  • take time to walk the show, surveying competition and observing other exhibits and exhibitors.
  • make mental notes of how your company’s participation could improve and share appropriately.
  • be on your best behavior throughout. Remember, you and your company are on display 24/7.
Don’t:
  • come to the show with a negative attitude. Instead, take the view that is a positive change of pace.
  • expect your exhibit to sell your products or company. Your job is to use the exhibit as a stage for your presentation.
  • forget your name tag. Pin it on your right lapel or side so it’s easily read while shaking hands.
  • let anything in your personal appearance, such as extreme wardrobe, distract your audience.
  • block access to your booth with people or exhibitry.
  • fold your arms across your chest, put your hands in your pockets or lean or sit on the exhibitry.
  • act like a robot with no feeling about what you are selling.
  • fidget, frown, or look impatient, bored, or tired.
  • eat, drink, chew gum, or comb your hair in the booth.
  • allow literature, briefcases, coats, sales leads, or business cards to clutter the booth.
  • be afraid to initiate a discussion. Attendees expect this.
  • assume anything about the visitor to your booth.
  • be patronizing to any attendee, regardless of age, gender, race, or any identifying characteristic.
  • ask general, dead-end questions such as “May I help you?”
  • disappear from the booth for any reason without explaining your absence to a fellow staffer.
  • talk too much, especially about yourself or company.
  • pass out business cards, literature, sample, or novelties (SWAG) without first qualifying prospects.
  • be tempted to talk at length with poor prospects.
  • waste the time of good prospects. You’ll make a much better impression by respecting their valuable time.
  • hesitate to encourage the prospect to compare your products to others at the show. This sort of confidence usually prevails.
  • forget to close your conversation properly with a qualified prospect by asking a leading question such as “when do you plan to move forward with your purchase?”
  • miss an opportunity at the end of an important discussion to suggest an exchange of business cards or to swipe their badge to the lead management system.
  • put leads or business cards in your pocket where they can get misplaced or not shared with team members.
  • fraternize too much with your competition.
  • underestimate the power of trade shows.

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