Selling at a trade show requires more than just mxl tv up. Sales reps need to be proactive, which increases ROI and justifies the marketing expense. But what usually happens?
The trade show and marketing personnel have put together a great exhibit. The booth looks fantastic and delivers the company message. You have the pre-show meeting where you tell all the reps what is expected and then when the doors open… the reps stand around and talk to one another, play with their phones or laptops, and wait for someone to amble into the booth. (Sound familiar?)
Worse, they only want to talk to “real buyers” and only buyers of “their particular product” or “their sales area.” The result? A low ROI, a frustrated trade show manager and marketing director, and questions as to whether trade shows are really worth the money.
Firstly, trade shows are worth the money, because any time you can get a group of potential buyers or persuaders together, relationships are made or strengthened and sales can be made. (You can’t create the same “feeling” from a webinar or teleconference – but that’s for another article.)
Secondly, you suffer from a low ROI – not to mentioned frustrated marketing and trade show personnel – because your sales force may know how to sell in the field, but few know how to sell on the trade show floor.
What follows sounds simple, yet few reps actually do it. So, regardless of your level of trade show experience, here are just a few things on which sales reps need to focus at a trade show:
1) Stop looking for low hanging fruit. By low hanging fruit, I mean waiting for attendees to come to you. Get out of your booth and step into the aisles. Hold some info or DVD/CDs in your hand and engage attendees, as they walk down the aisles. You can say, “If you’re interested in (a brief sentence of what your product does), we can help you out.” Or you can say, “Are you interested in (insert above sentence)?” Engage the attendee. Smile and be friendly.
When someone does walk in the booth, halt your conversation with your fellow rep about where to go to dinner and talk to the attendee. Introduce yourself and ask them, “What can I help you with?” Which leads me to…
2) It’s a team approach. If an attendee is not from your region or is interested in another product you don’t cover, take the attendee to the rep who can benefit from the conversation with that attendee. Sales reps aren’t necessarily “team players.” Companies love to talk about “teamwork” and then honor the individuals who have made more sales than others with prizes, cash, etc.
That’s why “teamwork” must be stressed at the pre-show meeting. Reps can help each other do more business at the show, which aids everyone. If a fellow rep won’t reciprocate, then you can stop sharing the leads with that rep. But more likely than not, your fellow rep will return the favor, if not there, at sometime in the future.
3) Get your mind off the close. Reps are focused, rightly so, on closing deals. However, at trade shows you have to relax and distance yourself from the close and work more on the “relationships” aspect, as well as educating potential customers. Why? Basic psychology: Right now, people are nervous and anxious and they can sense the same from other people. People will always gravitate to someone who is calm and relaxed, especially if they themselves are not. If you are relaxed and focused on relationships and educating the attendee, the attendee will respond with calmness and be more open to your ideas and suggestions.
Bottom line: Trade shows are the undisputed king of relationship building and the on-site, real-time education of large number of customers. As mentioned, webinars and teleconferencing are fine and have their place, but real face time and hands-on demos still and always will beat a flat screen and a dark conference room.
By being proactive at a show, you expand your opportunities. Expanding your opportunities will increase your productivity. You increase the amount of leads in your pipeline and help to generate a higher ROI from the show not only for you, but also for the whole company. In turn, this gives your marketing team the help they need to continue to help you.