Trade shows are a great way to gather new business leads. Research reports all lead to the same conclusion - shows can be a powerful way to find new leads while maintaining contact with existing customers. However, many disillusioned boothers work a booth from a stage one approach rather than stage four.
Stage one is the entry level for most new exhibitors. At stage one boothers stand at the back of the booth waiting for attendees, rather than taking the risk of approaching visitors pro-actively. Witness them engaged in paperwork, talking on their cellular phone, reading the newspaper or browsing company literature. They answer questions, they never ask. Stage one boothers offer only basic information that leaves the visitor, who has a serious question, with incomplete details.
Stage two boothers have advanced slightly but still have a long way to go. Stage two boothers view the show as an extension of their showroom or retail store. They walk around the booth like stalkers waiting for their prey. They use time worn lines like ”Hi, can I help you?” The stage two boother can also be spotted passing brochures to attendees or sitting behind a table. Stage two boothers use games and premiums ineffectively to attract attention. Stage two boothers don’t treat attendees individually. They offer a detailed description of every feature and benefit of their product or service to everyone who asks without ever asking the question “WHY”.
Stage three boothers have developed skills to help them achieve their show objectives. They understand the four parts of the information gathering cycle: approaching visitors, qualifying, making an effective show presentation and disengaging.
At stage three visitors are approached pro-actively using questions carefully crafted that encourage conversation. Qualifying the prospect is the second task which means asking the questions that tell the exhibitor enough about the prospect to make a decision about how to spend their time at the booth. The presentation comes next. The more information that is passed along to the attendee the less will be remembered. So a carefully developed presentation should be long enough to satisfy the information the prospects wants to hear while not burdening them with unwanted information the exhibitor thinks they need to hear. Disengaging is one step many fail to evoke. They carry on needless conversation with a prospect because they do not know how to gracefully end it.
Stage four is where dramatic improvement on your trade shows investment becomes possible. Those who use stage four booth skills do some key things that stage 1, 2, & 3 don’t. Stage four is beyond the conventional thinking about working the booth. It is well beyond approaching, qualifying, making the presentation and disengaging. A stage four boother knows that there is not enough time at any show to treat prospects the same way they might if they were in a non-show environment . At the same time they know the importance of the “people” element. After all, people do business with people they like, people they respect, people they have confidence in. In short people with whom they feel rapport.
Stage four exhibitors reap the real rewards available at shows because they integrate proper rapport building techniques into their show strategies.
Being a stage four boother takes time and patience. However, those who work at stage four clearly have the competitive edge over their stage one- two- and three counterparts.
About the Author:
Barry Siskind, President and Founder of Internationals Training and Management Company. Barry is a consultant, speaker and internationally recognized expert in trade and consumer shows. Barry is an active member of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM), the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the Trade Show Exhibitors Association (TSEA) and International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE).