How to Sell at Trade Shows

Learning how to attract new business at a trade show is easy, if you apply these tactics.

According to the Center for Exhibit Industry Research, themajority of trade show attendees are decision makers or influencersthat plan to make a purchase within the next 12 months. Don'twaste an opportunity like that -- follow these guidelines to helpmake sure your staff is ready to sell effectively.

Avoid soft sells
Trade shows require a hard-sell approach. When attendees showinterest in your booth, approach them immediately and invite themto learn more about your products or services. Don't leavepeople waiting -- trade show attention spans are short, and peoplewill leave your booth if they can't get help in 60 seconds orless.

Be engaging
The way you greet a visitor to your booth shows yourprofessionalism and willingness to help. Avoid innocuous greetingslike "Can I help you", "Hi, how are you?", or"How's the show going?". Instead, ask a directquestion that engages the visitor and helps you gauge theirinterest in your company's products or services -- "Whatinformation can I tell you about our new heating system?" or"Hello, what are you looking for in a patio door?".

Watch your manners
Certain booth behavior looks sloppy and conveys that you're notinterested in your customers. Don't sit down. Don't eat,drink, or smoke at the booth. Never leave your booth unattended.Don't spend time chatting with colleagues instead of focusingon customers.

Qualify prospects quickly
The first thing you should do once you meet someone new isestablish who they are (buyer, decision maker, supplier,competitor, etc.) and where they're located. This way youwon't end up spending important time with a person whoisn't responsible for buying your product/service, or who islocated in a region your company doesn't serve. You can findthis information out by asking some key questions, looking at theirbadge, or requesting a business card which will have theperson's title and address.

Ask lots of questions
Engage a prospect by asking open-ended questions -- ones thatrequire more than a yes/no answer. This will help you determinetheir needs and interests. Focus your responses on how your productor service can meet these needs. Be sure to observe the 80/20 rule-- listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Try to avoidany kind of prepared sales pitch, which can begin to sound roboticafter you've said it for the 50th time.

Keep good records
Write down all the relevant information about a prospect on a"lead card" which contains: the person's name, title,address, phone/fax number, e-mail address (all these can come froma business card), needs/interests, budget and timing. Use this cardfor your post-show follow-up when you return to the office.

The viewsand opinions contained herein are not necessarily those of AmericanExpress and are intended as a reference and for informationalpurposes only. Please contact your attorney, accountant or otherbusiness professional for advice specific to yourbusiness.

Copyright © 2002 American Express Company. All RightsReserved.

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