Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy
Mim Goldberg's Articles

The Buyer-Seller Relationship: At trade shows- this is really
a misnomer

Return to Mim's Webpage

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 forward.

10 Steps to Planning for Accelerating the Selling Cycle.

1. Who do you need to target? From your customer and prospect base?

  • Sales 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 exhibit?

  • 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 product line?
  • 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 interest?

  • Prospects will remember more if they can try and interact rather than being a passive listener.
  • 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?

  • For 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 examples.

  • 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 a commitment”?
  • 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

©2012 by Mim Goldberg