Trade shows are a different ballpark for sales reps, because instead of having to seek out and approach individual leads, trade shows present them by the dozens in one place. Additionally, trade shows are set in an environment of competition – if you attend shows in your niche, you’re potentially pitted against every other sales rep there and standing out can seem like a challenge, especially when your potential leads have spent days hearing similar pitches time and time again. So how do you keep from falling flat in front of a trade show crowd and being memorable against the masses? Preparation.
It’s important to know what you’re up against at trade shows so you can be the sales rep drawing people to you and making your competition jealous as you shine against everyone else. Are you prepared for your upcoming trade show? Here are some tips to get you ready.
In our social media soaked world, there is absolutely no reason to go into a trade show blind. Research your competition as well as your targeted possible clients. Know who will be attending so you know how you can pitch yourself against your competition. Identify who your biggest competitors are and create specialized points of how your product can do what your competitors can better and more effectively. Remember, you’re not just as valuable as your product at a trade show: you’re as value relies on how you match up to everyone around you. Going in with education about who will be there and what they are looking for helps you know which niche audiences to target and how to present effectively in front of them.
Treat everyone equally.
While it’s important to know who the big fish are at the trade show, don’t ignore the independent retailers or visitors. The #1 rule of networking is to be nice to everyone, because you never know who someone is or how he or she can help you by the connections they know. At trade shows, this is especially important, because the majority of retailers are independently owned, not huge chain shops. You may be approached by independent visitors who could turn into promising potential leads, and these independents may even turn out to be some of your biggest clients. Don’t just go after the big attendees because everyone is equal in what they can offer you.
Remember first impressions.
At trade shows, it’s important to be on top of your first impressions. During introductions, remember names so you don’t end up flipping through business cards later trying to remember a promising lead. A good trick is to repeat their first and last name and whom they represent and introduce them to your colleagues using their name as well for added emphasis.
Also, before pitching to customers, identify their needs by asking what they are looking for, what brought them to the trade show, or what their company does. After you find out what they want, create a unique appeal on how your product solves their specific requests. One of the biggest turn-offs of sales reps at trade shows is generic pitches that don’t say anything special to visitors. Not only does this make them feel like you didn’t care enough to find out about their wants but it also takes away from your effectiveness. It can be overwhelming to be approached by so many people at once, but making each one feel special and important helps you remember them and be memorable to them.
Persistence can be pushy.
At trade shows, visitors are constantly hounded by hungry sales reps eager to launch onto them with product pitches. Remember that persistence can sometimes be pushy to trade show audiences. In these times, it’s much better to be remembered as the friendly rep who had a real talk with them than the one who simply launched into a pitch and moved on to the next customer when they didn’t seem interested. Trade shows are as much about networking your product as they are about selling it, so be attentive to every person you meet in a genuine way. You can follow up later to make a harder sell, but during the trade show meet-and-greet, don’t be too persistent and drive a customer away.
Let technology do the leg work.
Put your focus on building connections with your visitors, and use technology to your advantage to automate processes like product presentation so you can focus on the human-to-human interactions that build your client portfolio. Let high-quality catalogs and great presentations do the work of presenting your product for you so you can spend less time pitching and more time meeting and greeting. Using iPads at trade shows is a great way to instantly present your catalog to customers, and another useful way they can help is by instantly scanning business cards and helping you add notes about visitors for personal follow-ups later.
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There you go – these tips can help get you on the right track when preparing for your next trade show. Let us know how our advice worked for you and the results that you saw. We welcome feedback!