How to work a trade show

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Here are trade show tips from Al Simon of the Sandler Sales Institute.

1. Obtain a list of attendees at least two weeks before the show. Plan to have meetings with targeted prospects, either at the booth, in your hospitality suite or over breakfast or dinner. Make it a goal to NEVER eat alone or with co-workers!

2. Plan your attack. Leverage the time and energy available to you to achieve optimum results. Draw up a plan with specific goals.

3. Use a team approach. If you attend the show with colleagues, assign individuals to certain parts of the show plan. Take advantage of the talents and interests of team members as well as their personal contacts.

4. Arrive a day early and stay a day (or two#or three) later. Arriving early assures that you are rested and organized on the first day of the show. It will also give you a chance to make opportune calls on participants who might have arrived early. Staying a day (or two#or three) later gives you a chance to see hot prospects who might otherwise deteriorate. Consider a golf or fishing outing or other activity that will attract prospects and get them away from other distractions at the show.

5. Consider conducting a #group meeting# where prospects who are interested can come back to see you in your hospitality suite either that evening or the next for a formal discussion or presentation of your service.

6. Learn how to draw people into the booth. Eye-catching displays, self-scoring tests, seven – 10 minute #closed curtain# presentations and drawings and contests are all ways to attract people into your booth. However, understand that people do business with people, which means you will need to re-tune your bonding skills for these #brief encounters.#

7. Learn how to sift the prospects from the suspects#quickly! You don#t have to tell your story to everyone&and it#s o.k. to ask questions to determine who is qualified to hear your story.

8. You should NOT be serving as an educator at a trade show&you should be asking questions to determine who gets your time and energy.

9. The pace of trade show selling is more accelerated than the standard sales call. While you are selling one prospect, 10 more could be passing you by. Learn how to get prospects to tell you what they want in a hurry.

10. Consider doing something big and different. Activities such as a hot-air balloon ride don#t take that much time, can be done early in the morning before the speakers and workshops start and will get you noticed even by those who don#t participate.

11. You must want to work a show and not view it as a duty you#ve been called upon to perform. Without the right internal motivation, no one could possibly endure the grueling pace a busy trade show demands.

12. Debrief. At the end of the show, compare results with your plan. What worked and what didn”t? What will you do differently next time? Compare notes with your colleagues, which is something you should have been doing throughout the show.

For more information, call Business Development Improvement, Inc. at 770-281-9090 or visit

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