Magical Keys to a Successful Trade Show by Norm Barnhart

A trade show is a wonderful place of opportunity for you.  From the moment the doors open, opportunity is knocking for your business.  The guests are there to get ideas and learn about new products or services.  Most people who come to a trade show are in need of a service like yours, they just might not know it yet.  This is the best place to meet new and motivated customers. This is your opportunity to share how your product or service can best help them. This face to face meeting can have better results than web or print advertisement because they get to know you and get a real feel for what doing business with you would be like.

The following are a few keys that will help make your product or service shine. These keys can lead to great results for you and your business.

Key #1: Make a great first impression. It is said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A positive first impression should be your initial goal. From the way you design your booth to the friendly courteous attitude of your staff.  The magic of quality and service should shimmer from you and your team. You should be seen as friendly, supportive,  a good listener and one who strives for excellence. This is as important as your skill and product knowledge.

Consider what Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, and known as The Tradeshow Coach, from Lake Placid, NY says, “Beginning well means you’re half done. Once you’ve established a rapport with the client, once that positive foundation has been laid, the hard work of negotiating a deal and closing a sale becomes so much easier.”

Key #2 Give them your Undivided Attention.  You only have a few moments to convey that you and your business would be advantageous to the client.  This can be demonstrated in the way you greet and talk with the potential client. The trade show environment is one of excitement, noise and distractions. When you give full and direct attention to each individual who comes into your area, you can help keep them from being distracted.

Key #3 Ask questions. Get them talking about themselves and their ideas.  This shows your sincere interest in them and this is the basic foundation of the relationship.

Price and other objections melt away when someone feels a connection with you.  They feel they can trust you and your team to deliver the high quality and service that you offer.  This cannot be an act. You should be in business because you like people and you love to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Let that shine through. Show your concern and desire to make their business the best it can be.

The desire to give quality service needs to be more than a sales trick, it must continue right through to the last detail of your dealings with them. When you have delivered your product or service and they are highly satisfied, then you will succeed. Let your excellence and expertise shine from the first impression and you are off to a great start.  Continue on to a great finish and this will lead to more opportunities as your client raves to others about your excellence.  It’s not about the sale, it is about the satisfaction.

Key #4 Make it Fun: A trade show is like a carnival or a county fair. It is a fun and exciting place to be. There is music, food, friends, and fun all under one roof. Let the fun radiate in your attitude, business is serious business, yet it is for to be of service to clients and help them achieve their goals.  Be yourself. Be fun, playful, interested, considerate and full of great ideas on how your product or service can make them a success. Are they clients? Yes. Are they friends who you enjoy helping? YES, YES!

People can tell if you don’t really want to be at the trade show booth. Non-verbal communication plays a huge role in creating good impressions. Attendees are aware of what is going on. They are observing your body language. It if conveys that you don’t want to be at the show, or are too busy, tired and not very interested in engaging with attendees, or it looks like you are just going through the motions, they’ll pick up on that and go elsewhere.

Key #5 Demonstrate Product Knowledge: Show that you know what you are talking about, don’t just rattle off statistics. You have asked a few questions and then show how your product or service would be a good match for what they are planning. Have a firm confidence in your skill and ability to deliver. Yet the main ingredient that is more important than knowledge is – building a relationship.

Key #6 Demonstrate Adaptability: Being easy going and flexible is a skill that is hard to demonstrate. You may have a few pictures or examples of how you were able to adapt and help a client.  When planning your trade show booth consider having a folder of photos or letters of reference handy to demonstrate this if needed.

Key #7 Take Good Care of Yourself.  It is tiring to be on your feet all day doing a trade show. Don’t let it stress you out. It’s fun to meet people and talk about what you can do for them. Don’t worry about it, get a good night sleep the night before and make it fun. Take breaks.  Drink lots of water, have some healthy snacks like grapes handy for your breaks.

Key #8 Collect Contact Information and Follow Up. You want to stay in touch with the client via an occasional card or e-mail. You can gather information by having a door prize when they fill out a form or give you their card. Do not just hand them a brochure or card and hope they will get back. Also be sure to take advantage of the swiping of badges and use that information to stay in touch with potential clients.

Send a friendly reminder about your service or product a week after the trade show. Write a note that says something like, “It was nice to meet you at the XYZ Show. I hope your plans are coming along good. Please call if I can be of service.” If you have collected even more information, you can personalize it even more. Do another follow-up with a flyer and note 2 weeks later.  Your interest in them and concern for their success will continue to impress them and show your good will.

Key #9 Be A Trusted Friend and Advisor. This is your goal. Consulting and advising is much more fun than “selling” something. You can show the Trade Show attendees how your skills, relationship style and personality will come alongside and blend with theirs.  Many people make decisions based on a gut feeling. Just be yourself. Be someone they would enjoy doing business with. This is all they need from you and it is the reason you do what you do. You are the expert. People enjoy being treated with special interest.

You are someone they can consult with to make their special day memorable and pleasant. You are there to help take away the worries and stress. They can see that they can trust your judgment and skills to make their wedding the special day it needs to be. What you are selling is you.  Remember, it is hard to sell, but easy to consult.

–   Norm Barnhart is a speaker and consultant at InspireBiz.com. He is a motivational keynote speaker and trainer who helps businesses excel in service and teamwork. He is from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. He also takes messages about company products or services and tailors an attention grabbing trade show routine that draws people in to the booth and conveys the message in a fun and memorable way. His eye catching illusions can make trade show presentations magical.

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