Tradeshows in Europe came about as
an extension of the monthly or weekly market days. Historically, trade fairs
have been set events in cities and seasons in Europe as early as 850 and with
formal written calendaring since the 1300's. These have always been serious
selling events- a true buyer-seller relationship. In fact, at many shows today
overseas, much of a year's business is expected to be conducted at the show.
This has not been the case in domestic events. Our shows came about more as an
extension of association membership and were viewed very differently from the
outset. They were viewed as necessary, a means of networking, obligatory at
times, and a perk, a boondoggle or a party event. Exhibitions were not viewed as
serious selling opportunities.
Attitudes have changed slowly, but
most exhibitors at US shows are still in a mode other than selling. They are
positioning themselves or accelerating the process for a future sale.
So if we view trade shows as an
accelerator rather than an on-site selling opportunity, what can exhibitors do
to assure their success?
It begins with the planning process and thinking
strategically about what can occur at the show and how the momentum can be moved
1. Who do you need to target? From your customer and prospect base?
is the best source for such lists - better than a unfocused pre-registration
list from show management.
2. How will you communicate
with this group to assure they come to your exhibit at the show? What offer will
you make that gets mindshare?
- You can use
a mailing, phone calls, an invitation with an offer, the internet. Almost
anything that will put you on their must see list are candidates.
3. What does a visitor to your
exhibit want to see and do? Then, what do you want them to see and do in your
- Do you want
new prospects to see and hear something different from current customers?
- Do you want
to show line extensions to current customers so they will buy more of your
- Does this
mean you need to consider a meeting area within your exhibit? How large an area?
Does it need total privacy or semi-privacy?
4. How will you get the
conversation going with your prospects and current customers before they arrive
at the show site?
- What vehicle
will you use to start the conversation so that when they get to the show you
know their specific needs and can make more
beneficial use of their time with you?
- ·Will you
create a website for your exhibit?
- Will you use
an e-mail campaign that requests recipients communicate key information to you
in advance of their arrival?
- Will you
sales staff focus on your top 20% and determine their future needs so you can
focus your exhibit on their needs, not your products/services?
5. Will you have the right
product mix to suit both current customers and new prospects?
- Will you
bring product? If so, which ones.
- If your
products are too large to be taken into the field, the show may be the ideal
forum for attendees to touch and view.
6. Will you have the correct
mix of staff available to answer and deal with all the questions that may arise?
rom customers, from new prospects?
7. Is your staff prepared for such an opportunity? Does your sales staff
clearly understand the unique differences in trade show
- They can
see as many people in a single day at a show as they may see in the field staff
in a month
- The average
booth staffer can talk with 6-10 attendees in an hour compared to 3-4 prospects
that a sales staff can see in one day.
8. Do you have a wide variety
of demonstrations that allow and encourage attendee interaction and pique
will remember more if they can try and interact rather than being a passive
- Does your
demo staff understand that they are not there to provide in-depth demos, but
rather just enough so that the
prospect wants to see more after the show?
9. Do your graphics clearly
communicate who you are, what you do and your offer?
example, if you are the industry leader, do you communicate this? If you have a
unique competitive advantage or differentiator,
do your graphics tell that message?
10/ Is your booth open and
inviting? Will attendees feel comfortable coming in or is there so much product
that they will feel
If positioning and acceleration of
the selling cycle are the primary goals, how does this impact setting
objectives? Again, maybe i t needs to be
thought of in a
different manner instead of simply considering generating leads. Here are some
- Find 75
number of new prospects that can be acquainted with the company
- Find 10
current customers to see a new product or a different product from what they
using to capture greater dollar share
- Conduct 200
demonstrations, with feedback from 75% of those viewing the demonstration.
- Conduct 20
pre-set meetings with current customers or hot prospects at the show to move the
process along and take it to the next level.
Your staff are the key to positioning
your products and services for the future sale. Consider these points as you
select your staff.
- Are they from the "hook em, hold em and sell em" mode? Or are
they good listeners?
- Do they understand the communication process that needs to
take place on the show floor - "get information, then give information, then get
- Can your staff readily engage strangers from any part of the
country or world? Do they avoid being territorial or ignore new prospects in
deference to current customers?
- Do they see show success as a team event- if they don't have
the knowledge they can refer that prospect to someone else within the exhibit
who can be f help?
Tradeshows have radically changed
over the last 25 years from totally social, party, out of office events to more
serious business events. As economic
times change, we will advance beyond the positioning and accelerating mode to a more
clearly defined buyer-seller mode. To do this, exhibitors will need
to be more proactive and begin the process of selling long before the attendees arrive at
the event. When the buyers come knowledgeable about the exhibitors solutions and
the exhibitors come prepared to communicate specific solutions and the two take
the time to communicate, then we will have a true buyer-seller environment