Prospects come to trade shows excited to see the latest and greatest things, and no one wants to leave the convention without owning the latest gadget. Customers see their friends and colleagues upgrading their technology and equipment and feel inclined to do the same. This, of course, is great news for you; so don't underestimate its importance. There aren't many times in life where you can get all of your best prospects to arrive in one place, expecting to be sold, and ready to buy.
THE FINE PRINT.
To be fair, closing huge sales isn't going to be as easy as showing them what you have and filling out order forms. As any high-performing salesperson can tell you, most sales aren't made just one time - they're repeated again and again, to different people, until enough of them have been persuaded that you can close the order. More and more organizations are turning to "buying teams" as a way to minimize risk and make better decisions. At a trade show, this can be a good or bad thing, depending on how prepared you are.
Your time is going to be very short, and you need to maximize it by meeting with as many potential customers as possible. Hours spent tracking down different members of a buying group can destroy your other opportunities. On the other hand, you would likely have had to sell to each of them anyway, and at least in a face-to-face setting you can work with them quickly, rather than trading phone calls and e-mails over a string of months.
KEEP THE SALE GOING.
With that in mind, I'm going to give you a tried-and-true method for working with buying groups: treat each person as a separate sale. That is, identify the major decision-makers, along with their buying personality styles, and try to arrange a group presentation. If that's not possible, go to your most action-oriented personalities first. Why? Because they're going to be the easiest and fastest to persuade, and because once they've made the decision to buy from you, they can help influence their colleagues.
ADJUST YOUR SPEED.
Don't be fooled by their impulsiveness, however. For every member of the buying group that wants to act quickly, there are bound to be a couple of others who are more cautious. Part of this is human nature, but part is business sense. Companies want a variety of opinions, so they send different types of buyers on purpose. Your task is going to be to move quickly while still advancing each decision-maker as a separate "sale" at his or her own pace.
For lots of customers, a trip to the trade show is a bit like a ticket to the carnival: they're excited to be there and more conducive to spending than they would be on a normal day. To use that dynamic to your advantage and make huge sales, however, you're probably going to have to make dozens of small ones to separate decision-makers along the way.
Carl Henry is a management consultant. He specializes in helping companies in the selection of top sales and customer service talent. Carl is also a Certified Speaking Professional and the author of several books and articles related to sales, sales management, and customer service. He conducts seminar and webinar for clients worldwide.