Booth Sales Strategy
Everybody, absolutely everybody, hopes to make a sale at a trade show. Sure, nobody expects it, but that is, after all, what you’re really there to do. It is great to show off your product or service, network, generate sales leads, and all the other nifty stuff you can do at a tradeshow, but what can you do to actually close that sale?
Obviously, it’s best to have some sort of deal or promotion. The best position you can be in is that of offering a new product that is not available anywhere else yet. Still, that is only good if your new product is something people actually want to buy. If right there, at your booth, is the only place someone can buy this great new thing you’re offering, you are likely to make a few sales.
Even if you do not have a new product to offer, a trade show deal or promotion can also be very appealing to potential buyers. Make sure the promotion is solid, offers value, and has a very impressive perceived value.
Make sure your staff is trained to listen to what the visitors are saying and make sure they can listen to what they are not saying. A potential buyer might drop a few clues that they are interested in buying, but if you have trade show booth staff who is untrained, easily distracted, or apathetic about your business, they are likely to miss very good sales opportunities that well-trained staff would catch.
Of course, to even get anyone interested in your product, you have to get them into your booth to begin with. Make sure your trade show booth is nice looking and eye-catching. Have your staff trained to ask questions of passersby to try to draw them into the booth? Once they get them there, make sure the staff has a plan of action, and also a way to accept payment.
Always, always, follow up on any leads you to get at a trade show. Even if they didn’t buy there, they might still, and you do not want to miss out on that opportunity.
Trade Show Qualifying and Prospect Assessment
Whenever I attend a trade show, I am constantly surprised and amazed at how booth staff is frantically trying to sell to everyone they meet. This is not selling, it is throwing some mud against a wall in the hope that something, anything will stick, but the truth is it is a waste of valuable time and energy.
The first thing to do when you are engaged in a conversation with an attendee is to qualify them.
Qualifying a prospect is a basic process to assess the potential value to your business of that attendee. If they do not meet your basic criteria, you should not spend any more time than is necessary for decorum’s sake upon them.
You are aiming to spend as much time as possible talking and discussing business with attendees who are interested in your product or service, have a distinct need that they want a solution to satisfy it and have the means and authority to buy from you.
There is a simple rule – AIM – which means Authority, Interest, and Means.
First, identify that the attendee has the authority to make the purchase. Many companies will send a company representative or buyer to the trade show, not to buy but to identify potential products and services which they are interested in. This is someone you are most certainly interested in.
However there are also plenty of company people who attend who have no purchasing authority and no real input in the buying decision in any event – they are along for the ride. You want to weed these people out very quickly as they are a complete waste of your time.
The next thing to establish is their interest in your offering. Most selling is done on the back of emotional needs, especially in the B2C venues.
However, do not underestimate the impact in B2B. In any event, you are looking for what the attendee is looking for, what problem they have that you can solve, how they can cut costs, make more money, improve employee and customer loyalty, reduce taxes, open new markets, reduce power bills – it is up to you to find it, but you should start with a thorough understanding of what your product or service is actually capable of.
Finally, determine if the attendee is the MAN – the decision-maker. If they are not the decision-maker, find out who is at their company because ultimately, that is the person you are going to have convinced to buy from you.
By following this simple qualification process you can cut out those interminable chats with people who may be very nice, but the reality is they are costing you money and time while a real customer is walking on by.
Trade Show Guerrilla Tactics for Maximizing ROI
Before you commit to exhibiting at a trade show you should first visit several which are within your target niche. This will provide you with a first-hand look at what the competition is doing and how effective exhibiting is in bringing buyers and sellers together in large numbers and in one location.
Take a close look at what is working with displays for grabbing the attention of attendees and the unusual design touches which you can incorporate into your own design when the time comes.
If you are on a budget, you can look at reducing the cost of exhibiting by teaming up with a suitable partner. While you’re spying out the competition at your walk-through shows, you should also be on the lookout for a suitable partner to hook up with.
With budgets so constrained at the moment, this is not going to be so difficult to do plus you will be able to plug into marketing and show programs which have already been running for some time (shows tend to be booked up a year in advance in many instances).
Do not think you need to partner with a small company either. There are opportunities with larger companies who have synergistic needs for smaller suppliers to partner with them. You will frequently find exhibitors who dedicate an area within their displays for just this possibility.
Event managers are always keen to encourage new exhibitors to book space – this is what they are in business for after all. Tell them who you are and what you are doing and ask for attendance demographics and exhibitor lists. This information will help you to decide whether the show is worth your investment to exhibit.
You also should find out what programs are available for marketing; event managers will perform some marketing for the show as a whole, however, there are always opportunities to partner with them. This allows you to plug into someone else’s marketing program at minimal cost to you and provides with far greater exposure.
When you have selected a show to exhibit at, you need to kick your pre-show preparation into high gear. Use the attendance data you obtained from the event managers and mail them with your news you are exhibiting.
You also should conduct a mini-marketing campaign with your own customers and prospects to promote your attendance. Don’t forget you should be issuing a press release for the media, especially local and trade media.
When you are performing pre-show marketing contact try to tie the prospects in. Offer a giveaway if they turn up at your display booth with the letter or coupon you send them. Make sure you include all of the contact and address information for the venue, including where you will be located on the show floor.
Not everyone you contact will be able to attend the event itself, so give them an opportunity to connect with you. Let the prospect indicate to you in some way, by mail, telephone or email, that you want your trade show brochure or want some sales contact from you – remember, always be selling!
Four Week Pre-Trade Show Activities
Trade shows are fantastic marketing activities but don’t sit around thinking that the trade show event management is going to do all the work for you. It is important that you take ownership of the pre-show marketing effort and maximize the trade show potential exhibiting can bring.
Trade show event managers will perform some global marketing – it is probable that they will advertise in trade journals and depending on the type of trade show, there will be some local marketing and contacting of previous attendees and other potential exhibitors and attendees.
You cannot expect that this will produce a flood of potential prospects who instantly want to come to the show just to see you. You now have to take control of this part of the exercise.
You can start by contacting all of your clients and prospect database. Postcard mailers are a great idea for this type of activity and even better if you use them several times as you count down towards the show. Make sure you include where you are exhibiting, even better a map of your slot on the trade show arena floor and all the pertinent contact information.
You can also coordinate postcard mailers with emails. Marketing emails should be carefully constructed so they get to the point with all the relevant information – including a map again and also your location and booth number.
Get an exhibitor and media list from the event managers. Trade shows are an excellent resource for meeting the press because the event is newsworthy and you can ride on the coat tails of that interest. There is nothing better than getting free press in the media, so don’t forget this.
Another way to reach out to the media is by using a press release. Press releases are how journalists and editors like to be told of potential news stories, but don’t think you haven’t got news. You do – just learn how to write one or get a professional writer to draft one for you and get it submitted.