According to statistics, US exhibitors spend roughly $24 billion on trade shows.
Accurately calculating the ROI on your trade show marketing can be tricky, but one thing’s for certain.
If you don’t know how to talk to customers at trade shows and conventions, this can seriously impact your ROI.
Unless you have a product that literally sells itself, you’ll have a hard time attracting prospects if your customer interaction skills aren’t up to par.
Fortunately, with the right approach and a little bit of practice, you’ll be able to effectively engage with customers and forge lasting business relationships.
Keep reading to learn some of the most important tips for effective communication with trade show attendees.
Ask Customers Their Reasons for Attending the Tradeshow
One of the hardest parts of trade show marketing is initiating a fruitful conversation with the people who pass your stand.
The last thing you want to do is plunge into a sales pitch right off the bat.
The easiest way to start a customer interaction is to ask a question. And one of the best initial questions to ask is what their purpose is for attending the show.
Attending a trade show costs money and time. Most attendees have a specific reason for attending. If you can find this out, it will already give you a good idea of whether or not the attendee is a qualified buyer or is simply browsing around.
All you have to do is say something like, “Hey, what brings you to the event?”
Ask About Their Needs and Objectives
Once you’ve identified a buyer, the next step is to find out their needs and objectives.
Most people will be happy to talk about this, and their answers will give you further insight into whether they are a qualified prospect.
Can your offering serve their needs? What makes it a unique solution for them, and what problems will it solve?
Ask For Their Opinions
Another thing you can ask is their opinion on something related to your offering.
Don’t just say, “Hey, what do you think of our trade show booth design, etc.” Instead, ask a question that will give you insight into their needs as a buyer or the industry as a whole.
For instance, let’s say your display showcases a furniture line, and you’re talking to an interior designer. If they have their finger on the industry pulse, they could be a mine of valuable information.
Where do they think interior design is headed? What are their biggest challenges when sourcing furniture for clients?
Even if you can’t address their pain point right away, pinpointing common issues can inform your strategies and sales model moving forward.
Ask What They Have Found Interesting at the Trade Show
If you want to streamline your lead generation efforts, without looking too salesy, ask potential prospects what they’ve found most interesting at the trade show.
This is a powerful qualifying question for a sales rep to use. One reason is that people enjoy sharing their thoughts and experiences at trade shows. It’s an easy way to spark customer interaction and keep the conversation flowing.
It can also help you identify your best prospects early on. If they mention a competitor’s booth or an offering that’s related to your own, there’s a good chance they are a prospect.
Remember That People Love to Buy, Not Being Sold To
One of the most critical things to keep in mind during lead generation is that most people love to buy—but hate being sold to.
If you want to chase people away from your booth, the fastest way to accomplish this is by rushing into a sales pitch. Pushing your sales pitch onto a fresh prospect will make them feel trapped, uncomfortable, irritated, and bored.
This is one of the reasons why many B2B buyers actually prefer online buying experiences. Most hate traditional sales techniques, especially sellers who won’t take no for an answer even after the buyer has made it clear they aren’t interested.
Nobody likes to be the victim of hard selling.
Instead, focus on asking qualifying questions like the ones we have listed above. Put the prospect and their needs first.
Keep Your Answers Short
We can’t stress it enough, customer interactions should be all about them. If they ask you questions, try to keep your replies informative, relevant, and short.
The worst thing you can do is launch into a long-winded reply that bores prospects or makes them feel like they’ll never get away.
As a general rule of thumb, try to keep your answers less than 15 seconds long. If a prospect wants to know more, they are sure to ask.
If a prospect isn’t asking you questions right away, relax and be patient. If they are a good prospect, it won’t be long before they start posing their own questions.
Don’t Hide Behind a Table
Want to know one of the biggest conversation blocks at events and trade shows? Physical barriers.
Let us explain. A lot of companies make the mistake of stationing their reps behind tables.
This places a literal divide between the sales rep and potential prospects, and can really harm your trade show lead generation numbers.
Most people won’t approach a rep that’s standing or seated on the other side of a table in a booth unless they have to. Forcing attendees to do this places the burden of “making the first move” squarely on their shoulders.
Instead, place your reps where attendees have easy access to them. Reduce the distance people have to travel to interact with reps and make sure they aren’t barricaded in by signs, surfaces, and literature stands.
Your displays for trade shows should be warm, accessible, and open, and your reps should be either in the aisle or right at the entrance, ready to engage with attendees.
Be a Solution
Always try to be an avenue to a solution for the people you engage with. Even if your offering isn’t a fit for them, try to point them in the right direction.
Maybe you know of a booth or company that can help? Direct them to it or put them in contact with someone who can be of service.
This might not generate leads in the short term, but it will make you stick out in their minds. B2B sales is all about building connections and business allies. The same person who wasn’t an immediate prospect might become one in the future, or recommend you to someone they know.
Now You Know the Basics of How to Talk to Customers at Trade Shows
Trade shows can be invaluable for lead generation. But you need to know how to engage with customers. If you hard sell, make interactions all about you, or hide away inside the trade show booth, customer interaction is going to take a nosedive.
The other essential element in trade show marketing? An impactful display.
Now that you know how to talk to customers at trade shows, the next important task is to design your trade show booth.
- Crafting the Perfect Exhibition Plan: Tips, Tricks, and Trends - November 9, 2023
- 7 Tips for Setting Up Tabletop Trade Show Displays - October 12, 2023
- An Example Product Presentation: Use This to Model Your Exhibit - September 25, 2023