Continuation of Part 1.
Part 2: What to do when you are there.
So, you’ve made all your preparations, you’ve picked the best time, you’ve arrived at the trade show, and you are ready to start. What next?
If you are new to the whole thing, and there is more than one of you, stick together for the first few stall visits. To break the ice, just go up to the first stall near you, and ask them about their exhibit, their product, where they are from, anything at all really.
While you are probably enthusiastic about your company, product or service, and ready to explode and gush forth as much information as possible, don’t even worry about mentioning it to begin with, unless the conversation naturally leads to that. Just get into the to-and-fro of a good natured converstaion.
What you absolutely do NOT want to do is bowl up to a stall, and “stand and deliver” a prepared spiel. The exhibitor’s eyes will quickly glaze over while they try and think of a way to get rid of you.
- Approach a stall, take your time, look at what they have. Ask them something about it, show an interest. Be pleasant and smile and you will be remembered.
- It’s crucial think up a couple of questions that lead in a positive way to the product or service you would like to present to them. For example, we wanted to present our B2B portal bDex.pl to exhibitors at a Polish expo. The “hook” is that we have an English language site. So our stock question was always along the lines of “..are you an English capable company? Can you cope with English speaking customers?”. This is a nice soft lead-in. Who wouldn’t want more customers?
- Don’t overplay you are a buying customer if you are not. They will soon figure this out and their enthusiam will quickly turn to annoyance.
- By this time, you have usually got their interest. Talk about your product. We had some nice A5 printouts that were simply screen dumps of the site with a bit of text. Sometimes it’s nice to have a flyer or other artefact to “talk to”, it gives the exhibitor something to look at, and you something to gesticulate with.
- They might ask you to leave a flyer or your card. For sure, do this, but DON’T leave without getting their contact details. If you leave with their promises that they will get back to you, you’ll never hear from them again. Your time will be wasted if you move on without contact details from them.
- While walking off, note on each card, what level of interest the exhibitor has, and if you have a next action. Chances are you might forget, when looking at the pile of cards and contacts the following week
- You might often hear, that they are not empowered to make a decision about your product or service. That’s fine, ask for a contact who can make a decision. Also note the exhibitors name. If you call the following week, saying “Hello Mr X, I was talking to your colleague Mr. Y at the Z expo, he gave me your contact details” you are automatically straight in, with your status escalated far above that of a cold caller.
It’s easy! Bear in mind you are going to get tired so once you have the basics, you’ll be able to speed up and visit stalls at a faster rate.
Wrap up and follow up
- If there is more than one of you, it’s crucial to SPLIT UP. Support each other if someone gets involved in a more prolonged discussion, but remember you will be tired after a few hours so you will need to maximise your team deployment to cover as many stalls as possible.
- Congratulations! Not only have you gathered a fistful of great leads, they are leads that you have met in person so you have automatic access by phone and possibly email. You have the power to call up and say “Hi it’s Trevor, we met at the XYZ expo last week..” and you will always get a conversation under way.
- Organise your leads into perhaps three groups, strong, medium, and weak. It’s important to try and get back to at least the first two groups within two weeks. Or they will forget who you are, and you will forget who they are.
There’s more good news. You have a much higher chance of doing future business with your new contacts, because they know you. You are already a step above a generic competing business.
I hope this article has provided some motivation to get out there amongst it, some practical tips, and most importanty, some leads. I wish you the best of luck!
This has been part 2 of 2, continuation of Part 1.