Are you exhibiting at the Greenville Chamber of Commerce’s GROW conference on May 25, 2010? For more information on this event, visit http://www.growgreenville.org. During the GROW conference attendees will join hundreds of Upstate business leaders in a full day of networking and learning as a variety of training sessions will offer strategies and tips on how to move your business to the next level in the areas of sales, leadership, entrepreneurship, networking, human resources and more.
How can you prepare for the GROW conference? Russ Davis (864.527.0497) with Sandler Training has developed the “Nine Neglects that Kill Sales at Trade Shows.” If your business focuses on the correct behavior in these nine areas, your trade show experience will be far more successful than the average exhibitor. Sandler Training is a world leader in innovative sales and sales management training.
Trade Shows have developed into one of the most popular ways for companies to market their products and services. All too often the personnel with the responsibility of performing booth duty (salespeople, managers, technical people, office personnel) find themselves the least prepared to handle the real job. Studies show that the following problems are being faced regularly by people who work the booths at trade shows:
- Neglecting to commit to specific objectives: Thousands of companies participate in trade shows every year. Many of these companies spend days, weeks, months and even years planning the display. However, they neglect to invest appropriate amounts of time and money to properly prepare their personnel with the methodology and technique to be applied at the show. Defining specific objectives in advance only starts the process to determine the strategies involved in providing effective and efficient coverage at a trade show. Are your objectives to sell, gather leads, qualify leads, expose your produce, service or company, or some other goal that you are looking to achieve? Prioritizing your objectives will help define what has to be done.
- Neglecting to draw people into the booth: Gimmicks may be great (an eye catching display, drawings, contests, a demonstration that allows the visitor to participate), and they will get people to stop. However people do business with people which means your people have to communicate with others. Are your people well prepared to deal with people that come into the booth or are they chasing them away by lingering in the back of the booth like a vulture awaiting its prey? Perhaps they are grabbing them in the front of the booth with some version of the old “retail” store opening, “Can I help you?” Training your people to be as strong and different as the eye-catching display is worth as much if not more towards getting people to stop by your booth.
- Neglecting to separate suspects from prospects: You need a system to qualify the people that come into your booth quickly. Far too many people who work at trade shows believe that they have to tell everybody their story. Not every person has an interest in your product or service nor do they qualify or even deserve to hear your presentation. Being able to differentiate the suspects from the prospects will certainly increase the sales.
- Neglecting to ask questions: Too many people make presumptions and then provide solutions prematurely. Developing a format for questions the suspects to see if they become prospects will help in determining which people warrant your time and effort.
- Neglecting to get a decision: Even if this means you get a “NO”. The person at a trade show should not be serving as an educator. There is a definite need to get a commitment and learn the priority which the prospect places on a certain product or service. Lack of such a decision or avoiding the “NO” that so many people fear results in not knowing which prospects require follow up. Too many leads, especially unqualified or misqualified leads, can be worse than too few leads and produce unproductive sales time after the show.
- Neglecting to adjust outside selling styles to trade show selling: The pace of a good show is generally fast moving. The people in attendance want to see a lot in a short period of time. Ad-libbing and working your way through the detail of a typical sale doesn’t work in the trade show environment. While one is being sold, ten are getting away. The truth is that you need to apply a strategy that gets the prospect to show or tell you what he/she needs and identify when they see themselves doing something about that need. The difference between outside selling and trade show selling strategy is similar to the difference between an airplane taking off from an aircraft carrier versus a standard airport runway.
- Neglecting to do more than “put in their time”: Many people are not motivated to do work at the show. They spend their time chatting with other exhibitors (about hating booth duty), looking to take coffee breaks or walking around making small talk. Management never dedicated the time that is necessary to develop a motivated person to work the show. There is no attempt to arouse interest; there is no time allowed to prepare for the show (lack of understanding objectives), thus the people are not in goal oriented mode. Working the show is not presented as a privilege and the people are not included in the planning and decision making stage of how to accomplish certain objectives. With any or all of these ingredients missing, how can we expect people to do more than just “put in their time?”
- Neglecting to understand the “role” of the person working the show: Along with the lack of motivation comes the inappropriate role of the person at the trade show – that of being subservient, even to the degree of being a “beggar.” The trade show should be viewed as a Broadway Play in which you are the star! Do you take control or do you fail to us the talent and ability necessary to investigate, examine and understand the prospect’s situation? The solution is either inappropriate, or more often, misunderstood by the suspect who doesn’t convert to a prospect.
- Neglecting to plan to follow up after the show: The show ends and there is a sigh of relief from everyone involved. The problem is that now the work should begin – the work of bringing in the return on investment. Even those companies that have planned on sending out thank you letters, literature, gifts or some other sort of advertisement often find themselves failing to make that person to person contact that is so critical to closing the sale. Be it lack of personnel, technique, goals, qualified prospects or planning, without the sales call for in person follow-up, you better not sit around waiting for orders to flow in!
Pay attention to these nine items as you prepare for your next trade show experience and you will see greater results! If you are considering exhibiting at the 2010 Grow Expo, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or (864) 370-1545, and we would love to get you in touch with the right folks. Good luck!