I have spent much of my 30 year career at Trade Shows and I continue to be shocked at What is an all to common site. Dead Trade show booths. Oh, I don’t mean an empty space, I mean an occupied space with nothing alive in it. You only win at a trade show if you walk away with relationships. Yep, you heard me right. Not orders, relationships.
The simple truth is that people buy PEOPLE before they buy products and services. I never buy things from people I don’t like. I don’t mean we are best friends, I just mean they seem like nice people. And this is where many companies fail. They go too quickly for the fast qualify and close or they don’t really make an effort at all.
Here are some tips I’ve learned that help bridge the gap between “stranger” and “friend” at your trade show booth.
1. BREAK THE ICE. Have some sort of Ice breaker as the lead at your booth. We used Golf games, basketball games, toss the bean bag into the toilet games etc. just to get people to stop and watch or participate. Its so much easier to toss somebody a bean bag and say “Take a shot” then to ask for their business card.
2. BE HAPPY. When people stop, be natural and friendly. Don’t staff a booth with introverts. You don’t have to show them pictures of your grandchildren, just be natural. If you know something or somebody in the company they represent ask about it or them.
3. BANNERS VISIBLE, Don’t bury your banners in front of tables where people are standing. This drives me crazy. If you hang a banner in front of your table nobody see’s it. If you don’t have a backstop use a banner frame to hang banners, like the one from EZFrame ( www.ezframecompany.com ). Put lights on banners so they stand out.
4. STAY FOCUSED Once you realize somebody is not a buyer, move on in a friendly way. Don’t let “non buyers” consume too much time. The exception to this is if they are interacting in a way that makes others stop. If that is happening, let them entertain and you move to work the crowd.
5. FOLLOW UP If you are not going to follow up on the leads. Don’t go to the show. Its seems like 90% of the vendors I know from trade show circuits don’t follow up on their leads. Its a shame, because that is where the relationship goes from casual to customer.
Trade shows are still a great way to meet potential customers and build your business. But if you are investing the time and money in a show, make sure you get your moneys worth.