The selling activity that occurs within a booth at a local or national trade show is a microcosm of the everyday strategic sales call. The salesperson establishes credibility, understands the customer’s needs, conveys the value of his/her solutions, and secures a commitment to move the sale to the next step. It’s all part of trade show prospecting.
Salespeople at trade shows try to perform all those functions in a very condensed window of opportunity. Just like in a regular sales call, if someone is not the least bit curious about who you are or what you can do for them, they may not want to spend any time with you.
Should you ask questions?
Salespeople manning a trade show booth are often encouraged to ask lot of questions to try to qualify prospects ambling through the aisles. While this approach might work with some trade show participants who are open and receptive, it may not be the best strategy for engaging new prospects and qualifying leads.
The first tip is to leverage curiosity to pique the prospect’s interest. Some salespeople do it by simply asking if the prospect is aware of his/her company and the products or services it offers. This question will usually stop people in their tracks.
Prospects who are knowledgeable about the company will usually rattle off a few facts, then stay to learn more. If prospects are not knowledgeable about the company, they’ll usually stay to learn about it.
You may close some business during a trade show, but more often you’ll identify quality leads. And it’s a good idea to establish the justification for a follow-up call.
It can be as simple as setting up a date and time when you can have an in-depth conversation about how your product or service could address their needs.
Source: Thomas Freese is the founder and president of ABS Research, Inc., a sales and marketing firm based in Atlanta.