So I’m perusing my LinkedIn page this morning (a helpful way to transition back into work on the Monday after Thanksgiving) and I see a post which states the following (I’m paraphrasing) "people spend thousands of dollars to exhibit at a trade show and not one of them stops me" complete with a video of him walking through an exhibit hall without, of course, being stopped. The video is in fast motion so you can’t really make heads or tails of it anyway.
The post is an attempt to sell something but all I could think about was how wrongheaded he was. I’ve exhibited at over fifty shows and the last thing I would ever try and do is act like a used car salesman (no offense to used car salesmen) trying to drag every attendee into my booth. It would be a waste of their time and mine.
But that begs the question. What should I, as an exhibitor, do to attract the right people to my booth?
The first thing I’d do is to create a booth that tells my story for me. For me that would be a booth touting "data collection for the trade show industry, specifically lead retrieval and session tracking apps." I would want to make sure that attendees know that Bartizan has the original trade show app, that we have been in the industry for over 20 years and about our excellent customer service. The booth should do such a good job of telling that story that, if for some reason I’m not there, attendees would know what it is that I’m selling and why some of them should be interested.
And if I see an attendee checking out the signage on my booth, I would definitely approach them and ask them if they are interested.
But if not, then what? Here’s what works for me.
I stand at the edge of my booth, not quite in the aisle, ready to engage and answer questions of an attendee walking down the aisle. I think the most important thing is to be present and in the moment, ready to talk to any attendee who might be interested. That means no phones and no distractions, except, of course, for another attendee.
If someone is walking down the aisle filming everything, chances are I am not going to stop them. Same with anyone else who studiously avoids eye contact as they walk by me. Like I said earlier, I’m not a used car salesman, and if someone is going to go to all the trouble of avoiding eye contact with me, I’m not going to ruin their day by trying to get their attention. The only exception here would be if it’s someone who’s on your list of people to talk to.
What if someone does make eye contact? Then you can say hello and ask if they’re interested. When they ask what you’re selling, be sure to have your elevator pitch ready (for those unfamiliar with the term, an elevator pitch is a pitch that you can deliver when you find yourself in an elevator with a potential client, i.e. a pitch that’s less than 30 seconds). For me it would be: “Are you looking for an award-winning lead retrieval or session tracking app? Bartizan has been a trusted supplier to the trade show industry for over 20 years with excellent customer service. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to show you a demo.”
If they’re interested, great! If not, I thank them for their time.
The mark of a great exhibitor is not how many leads they collect. It’s how many sales they make. And I’d rather have 15 high quality leads, than 100 leads that I corralled into the booth (or 200 leads who stopped by to pick up some swag).