5 Proven Tips for Selling at Trade Shows

September 4, 2019 | Trade Show Tips Trade Shows

In this article, we’ll share five of Tradeshow-Planning.com‘s top tips for selling at trade shows. From sales strategy to follow-up matters, you’ll learn the secrets to having a profitable trade show.

Prefer a video? Check out the Tradeshow-Planning.com Podcast on Direct Selling Tips for Trade Shows

Tips for Selling at Trade Shows #1: Define Clear Sales Goals

Direct sales at a trade show—otherwise known as face-to-face selling—requires preparation and strategy.

The first step is defining your business or sales goals. Which products or services are you trying to sell at this event? Make a list. In addition to ‘making the sale’ (which might also mean signing a contract), are there actions that your customers usually take before deciding to make a purchase?

For instance, do they typically need to try a sample, see a product demo or do some research? List these actions as sales goals as well.

Tina Nicola, M.A.

Tina is the founder of Tradeshow-Planning.com and has been creating profitable marketing and exhibit strategies for startups, small businesses and nonprofits for over nineteen years. Her main goal is to broaden access to the techniques she has developed so anyone can benefit and improve exhibiting strategy, sales conversations and follow up.

Introducing…
Tradeshow Basecamp™

Our acclaimed course series, a complete program designed to help you have profitable trade shows. Get instant access to the full course series (101, 102, 103, 104).

Be fully prepared for your next event and earn your  Certified Tradeshow Basecamp Exhibitor™ (CTBE™) today!

Training a team? Check out our For Teams course series.

Introducing...Tradeshow Basecamp™

Tips for Selling at Trade Shows #2: Sales Strategy

Once you’ve got a list of sales goals, it’s time to decide on a sales strategy for the trade show. 

In our Tradeshow Basecamp™ course series, we break down this strategy into Five Easy Steps

  • Icebreaker
  • Quick Intro
  • Lead Interview
  • Next Steps
  • Disengagement

Each of these five step should take you closer to one or more of your sales goals. You’ll use Icebreakers to start conversations with exhibit attendees—conversations that might lead to sales! You’ll prepare Quick Intros in advance of the show—short statements about your company or product that keep the sales conversation going. From there, you’ll qualify leads with the Lead Interview—asking specific questions to find out if the person you are speaking with is a ‘good lead’ likely to buy from you!

If at any point you discover the person you are speaking with is not a good lead, you jump right to the last step and Disengage (end the conversation)! If your conversation has uncovered that the person is (or might still be) a good lead, you try to meet a sales goal by proposing appropriate Next Steps.

You can learn more about how to become a pro in executing these Five Easy Steps by taking one of our Tradeshow Basecamp™ courses, which include sales role play!

Want to learn more about how to have a profitable trade show Check out these articles…

Trade Show Booth Tips and Trade Show Tips and Tricks

Tips for Selling at Trade Shows #3: Don’t Pre-Judge Leads

Good—and bad—leads come in many guises. In most industries, a good lead might strike you as looking or acting rather unprofessional, even if they are a decision maker. In fact, some decision makers tend to approach trade shows as a day away from the grind—and tend to dress down. 

On the flip side, it’s not uncommon to find yourself in a conversation with non-decision makers who have an air of authority and conduct themselves very professionally. Ironically, some of the best-dressed and professional-seeming attendees you’ll speak with may be job seekers! They are acting professional to impress you, not to buy from you!

For this reason, it’s important to approach the Lead Interview like a scientist. Don’t reach conclusions about whether or not you are speaking with a good lead until you’ve done the research and asked questions about their identity and interests. You don’t want to write-off a good lead because they initially seem to lack authority. 

If you find out during the Lead Interview that a person is not in any way a potential customer, you need to Disengage from them. This applies even if they are really professional and seem super interested in your product. After all, time is money at a trade show! 

Tips for Selling at Trade Shows #4: Get Referrals Ready

If your customers tend to need to think or research your type of product before deciding to buy, prepare for this before the trade show. Many people or companies go to trade shows with the express intent of making a purchase decision while there, or shortly after.

Here are some tips to make sure you don’t lose a good lead because you haven’t prepared to address their concerns:

Get Technical Contacts Ready

It’s likely that many staff working your trade show exhibit won’t know the answers to all of the ‘tough’ questions decision makers ask. Really good leads sometimes need to have technical questions answered—or want to meet with the CEO or VP of your company—before deciding to do business with you.

Make sure all staff have easy access to contact information for the colleagues who have answers to those ‘tough’ questions. Know when and where those colleagues are available at the trade show. Schedule good leads to meet with those colleagues during the show. 

Prepare References/ Reviews 

Do your customers need references or want to see reviews before making a product decision? Have those educational materials ready as handouts in the exhibit. Print out copies of great reviews you’ve received from third parties or prepare a list of sites where the customer can find such reviews. 

Passing Lead Notes to a Colleague

In Tradeshow Basecamp™, we talk a lot about how and why staff need to take great notes during their sales conversations at the trade show. Be sure that whatever lead tracking solution you’ve decided on for the show supports referring good leads to colleagues for follow up. 

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen companies blow a sale because a staff member referred a good lead to the CEO, and that CEO didn’t bother to takes notes about the conversation. The company didn’t plan in advance for this scenario. Don’t let that be you.

Plan Product Demos / Presentations

Schedule product demos and educational presentations to take place during the trade show. Better yet, schedule these events in your trade show booth rather than in a separate location whenever possible. 

As we discussed in our article ‘Trade Show Tips for Small Businesses,’ hosting presentations or demos in your exhibit area helps to drive traffic. 

Since these presentations or demos are often done by people with technical expertise or clout in your company, they serve another purpose as well. Staff will know when these colleagues ‘in-the-know’ will be in your booth, and you can schedule good leads to come back and meet them. It’s a great next step that will usually get you closer to a sale while you are still at the trade show.

Want more information on driving traffic and pre-show marketing?

Check out our article on Trade Show Tips and Tricks.

Tips for Selling at Trade Shows #5: Train All Staff to Sell!

The last of our tips for selling at trade shows should be the most obvious: You need to adequately prepare all staff to sell at the trade show. It’s on the list because, strangely, most companies do not give their staff the guide they need to sell.

If all staff working the exhibit are already seasoned sales pros, this isn’t as critical. However, this is rarely the case. Most often, companies pull in staff for whom sales is not their full-time job to help ‘work the booth.’ These staff are often petrified to to have sales conversations. And why shouldn’t they be?

If this scenario describes your exhibit staffing plan, you need Tradeshow Basecamp™.

Why Tradeshow Basecamp™?

Tradeshow Basecamp™ is a complete guide on how to have profitable conversations at trade shows. This course will teach you how to set trade show goals that staff can use to effectively guide their trade show sales conversations. You’ll learn how to identify the Four Character Lead Types you’ll meet at every trade show and how to have successful conversations with each of them.

What are the Five Easy Steps?

Tradeshow Basecamp™ will teach you or your staff to have sales conversations in Five Easy Steps:

  • Icebreaker
  • Quick Intro
  • Lead Interview
  • Next Steps
  • Disenagagement

To learn more about the Five Easy Steps approach, read our article on trade show direct sales strategy.

Each step should take you closer to your sales goals. You’ll use Icebreakers to start conversations with exhibit attendees—conversations that might lead to sales! You’ll prepare Quick Intros in advance of the show—short statements about your company or product that keep the sales conversation going.

From there, you’ll qualify leads with the Lead Interview—asking specific questions to find out if the person you are speaking with is a ‘good lead’ likely to buy from you!

If at any point you discover the person you are speaking with is not a good lead, you jump right to the last step and Disengage (end the conversation)! If your conversation has uncovered that the person is (or might still be) a good lead, you try to meet a sales goal by proposing appropriate Next Steps.

Tradeshow Basecamp™ Staff Training Solutions

Have you learned anything in this article that you didn’t already know? If so, you’ll love Tradeshow Basecamp™!

Tradeshow Basecamp™ is a complete guide on how to work a trade show booth to maximize profitable sales conversations. You can affordably train yourself or even your whole team without spending $1,000s on trade show or event planning consultants. As you’ll see below, there’s a Tradeshow Basecamp™ solution for everyone!

The Training Handbook

Your least expensive option for training is the Tradeshow Basecamp™ Handbook, an eBook available exclusively via Tradeshow-Planning.com. In it, you will learn the basics of how to have repeatably successful sales conversations, create reasonable sales goals, and keep good notes for following up with leads after the show.

Trade Show Training Course for Teams

If you’re managing a team, you might want to consider the Tradeshow Basecamp™ course series for Teams, which features team management and per-seat pricing. Training accountability with challenging quizzes and video watch time verification tracking will give you confidence they’ve paid attention and mastered the concepts.

Trade Show Training Course for Individual Professionals

Just want to train yourself in the Tradeshow Basecamp™ methodology? Check out our full Tradeshow Basecamp™ course series for Individuals, which includes hours of online videos, role playing, and downloadable resources. It is a complete program to ensure you are prepared for your next trade show, trade fair, or exhibit.

Train Staff on How to Work a Trade Show Booth In-House

Without trade show staff training, a trade show is a waste of money. There is no better way to boost your ROI than by making sure your staff is trained to sell! If you have the time and resources to conduct training in-house, check out our guide to direct sales team training ideas.

We hope this has been a helpful review of some of the trade show tips for small businesses available at Tradeshow-Planning.com. It’s our sincere hope that you and your team will find Tradeshow-Planinning.com and our Tradeshow Basecamp™ course series to be a valuable partner in your trade show success for years to come.

Introducing…
Tradeshow Basecamp™

Our acclaimed course series, a complete program designed to help you have profitable trade shows. Get instant access to the full course series (101, 102, 103, 104).

Be fully prepared for your next event and earn your  Certified Tradeshow Basecamp Exhibitor™ (CTBE™) today!

Training a team? Check out our For Teams course series.

Introducing...Tradeshow Basecamp™

5.00 out of 5 stars

1 ratings

Let us know what you think...

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
Loading...
Leave a Reply