What qualifies a visitor to your exhibit? Does your staff know who they need to find and how to do so? It is more than just reading the badge and making a quick determination. Qualify by asking open-ended questions about interests and needs for your products or services. Then if there does not seem to be a fit consider several of the following techniques.
Unqualified visitors fall into several categories – the browser with no specific needs or agenda, the current customer who wants to hang out in a place where they feel comfortable, competitors, visitors selling their services from the floor and job seekers.
For the visitor with no fit or specific need, give them a brief overview once you understand what they need and why they stopped, and then thank them for stopping to learn more about you, shake their hand, ask if they would like any literature sent to them, and disengage both verbally and physically by moving on to the next visitor. If their need does not fit what you offer, do not be reluctant to tell them that this is not something you do or offer.
For the current customer who just does not want to leave after some conversation, tell them this is just not a good time to visit due to booth duties or perhaps if they seem unwilling to leave invite a member of Sr. management over to talk with them. Do let that visitor know would love to spend time with them off the show floor and would be happy to meet them for coffee, lunch or dinner so you can really devote quality time to them and their needs and issues.
For the competition, treat them as you would like to be treated but be brief and when a visitor approaches, thank them for stopping and disengage. For those selling services or job hunting, designate a specific go-to person in the exhibit or capture their information and let them know someone from the home office will get back to them after the show as you are not the decision maker.
The most important two things to remember are never assume you can tell a qualified visitor from their badge, and always be polite as you never know when that pest will turn into qualified visitors at a later date.
© 2013 by Mim Goldberg