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How to “reel them in” to a trade show booth

We seem to be back to 2019 in the trade show world.  Shows that shuttered during COVID have reopened, even if traffic and attendance seems smaller so far, but rising. So, let’s spend a cycle on trade shows for the first time in years.

Wouldn’t it be magic if we could find one (unique to us) question to ask people passing the booth or table as they pass in the aisle of the trade show?  I asked several exhibitors that question recently, and received some surprising responses, along with tips for “reeling them in…”

Some surprising answers from persons in sales

“Is your mom OK?” was offered by one who said it always worked for him. A bit of a trap for some perhaps.  “Didn’t I see you looking for [an adjacent product or booth]?”  “One minute of your time and I have a gift for you,” said another.  But these all seem contrived, not at all comfortable for most of us.

A better response to consider

Another sales manager offered that he reads the first name on the badge at least ten feet before the booth entrance (a good start, as opposed to trying to stop someone already passing by.)  “Hi Dave,” he says. “You’d make my day with just two minutes of time.”  Better.

…and a mathematical plan to allocate time

[Email readers, continue here…]    One CEO explained to me that he tells his people to use the math to stay vigilant, even during slow times.  He states that a show with 4,000 attendees and a total of fifteen hours of exhibit time over three days (typically) will generate five people a minute walking by the booth.  “It would be a crime,” he states to his troops, “to turn away from the aisle and speak together even for thirty seconds for that reason.  Yes, traffic is not uniform. But that calculation makes a case.

Great advice from a corporate sales manager

Finally, my quest yielded another gem from yet another sales manager.   “Help them in, and if they are inappropriate or unqualified, help them out,” he states.  He explained that we should bring guests as far into the booth to the back or sides as possible.  A blocked entrance is an invitation for most to walk on by, he states.  And if you determine that the candidate is not appropriate, ask if you can help him or her find the object or company next on the list.  That way, he continues, you are helping your company and your guest at the same time while clearing the spot for another, more qualified candidate.

Trade shows are expensive. 

There are lots of important tactical tips to help you make the most of that expense and time.  Along with spending time on the strategic goals for the exhibit, the script or focus for each member of the team, and a chart of times for in–booth service, these are a good start toward planning a productive show.

  • Don

    Thanks again Dave for your insightful comments.
    When we exhibited @ Tradeshows we had the smallest booth and most would walk the other way. Other booths hired beautiful gals with no technical knowledge (Booth Bim**s) to attract visitors.
    We discovered Moonwalking was attracting more visitors than anything else including the gals and candy.
    We moved our prospecting online, hired knowledgeable women and got better results overall.

  • Clarence W Treat

    Very interesting ideas for very complicated situations.

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