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More revenue from exhibitions and trade shows


I’ve recently been talking to a lot of business leaders who are exhibiting at a very successful trade show. Most of them attend every year and they find it imperative to attend. The reasons they attend include making sure the industry knows they are still in business, meeting old contacts and launching new products and services. But the main reason why it makes sense to return year after year is acquiring new leads.

Exhibiting is very expensive. Not only do the organizers charge large sums for a small space, the stand has to look the part and then there is the huge amount of investment of people’s time. Valuable people who could be doing other things are chained to a few square meters for days on end. They have to be effective at getting new leads for the exercise to be worthwhile.

So you would expect some great salespeople to be manning the stand, picking up lots of potential business. Unfortunately, if you go along to almost any show or exhibition you see something else instead. They are often talking to each other instead of talking to visitors to the show (and then complain of poor footfall). When they are talking to visitors they are full of features and benefits, their hands full of brochures. If they get a business card they take days to follow up. Sometimes the stand is there empty of anybody, or manned by bored-looking salespeople who might as well not be there.

I remember I went to one show and was accosted by a salesperson who had leapt off their stand to talk to me, determined to tell me all about investing in their new golf course. It was only after a few minutes that I could stop his flow; he hadn’t bothered to ask anything about me. I don’t even play golf.

Now, I am sure you will think that your team isn’t like that. They are professional and effective. However, supposing they could be even more effective? What would that look like?

Well, firstly they would have plenty of pattern interrupts. They would deliberately say things or ask things that the visitor wasn’t expecting. They would ask loads of good questions. Believe it or not, a tradeshow isn’t the place to educate. It is the place to acquire lots of information about the challenges your potential clients have that you could solve.

So what should you do with the brochures and marketing material? Give it to those visitors who only want some basic information and will never do business with you.

Your people need to have some great 30 second commercials and ideally have a system to book in proper meetings with prospects. You can’t afford to waste time having exploratory meetings with prospects whilst the show is open or you will miss out on too many potential good clients. I am always amazed at how long salespeople will spend with prospects on their stand; they seem to think that the longer they spend explaining things, the better the chances of doing business. The truth is almost the reverse. If you’ve spent ten minutes or more with a prospect they probably think they’ve got all they need from you. Get the appointment, with a good agenda agreed up front and move on to the next good contact.

Would you like to know how to apply pattern interrupts, create 30 second commercials, ask better questions, ditch the brochures and make more good appointments with firm agreed agendas? If you are based in Surrey, Sussex, Hampshire Berkshire or Kent and you’d like some help getting your team more effective at exhibitions and trade shows, contact me and I’ll invite you to a free workshop.

Paul Glynn

Paul Glynn

Sandler trainer