Turning Prospects into Clients on the Trade Show Floor

March 28, 2015

Eric Dyson

Eric Dyson is the Content Marketing Specialist at Nimlok. Eric is a rapacious reader and has a voracious appetite for all things pastry. From gas station apple pies to gourmet cheesecake; if it’s sweet he eats.

Let’s face it, face-to-face marketing can be a tough racket  - it takes nerves forged of steel to jump into the fray - and a cast iron will to stick it out. However, no matter how difficult the gig may be, there is nothing like landing a great sales pitch or closing a sale on the trade show floor.

According to research conducted by Exhibit Surveys, Inc. in 2013 82 percent of trade show attendees were buying influencers.

This means that 4 out of 5 attendees are essentially high valued targets in the market to buy your product or service. With that in mind, it is crucial that you be able capture as many quality sales and leads as possible while exhibiting. Below you will find the three keys to selling on the trade show floor.

They Need to be Drawn to You

The very first piece of the puzzle seems to be the most obvious – but I would be remiss in my mission to educate you if I didn’t cover it. It’s simple -- your sales prospects need to be drawn to your exhibit before you can begin your pitch.

At most trade shows you will be flanked by your competitors, and if you do not have a sufficient game plan to capture attendee interest you will surely be drowned out. That being said, this is where utilizing giveaways, in-booth promotions and product demonstration come into play.

Many companies like to hand out brochures to educate their visitors on their organization -- but this can be a waste of valuable resources. In fact according to CEIR research nearly 80 percent of all trade show literature is thrown away before attendees leave the trade show venue.

Not only are most brochures discarded, but they also do not draw in attendees, and cost money to shipping and print. On top of all that your visitors are throwing away your central piece of educational content, thus negating any impact you wished to have upon them.

Instead of allocating resources to printed material, use that same space in your budget to bolster your promotions and giveaways. Data suggests that giveaways make a great positive impact on your prospects.  Georgia Southern University conducted a study that found 71.6 percent of trade show attendees who received branded promotional giveaways remembered the name of the company that gave it to them.

Even better 76.3 percent of attendees held a favorable view of the company they received the giveaway from. You need to offer something that an attendee can use, something that they need right now rather than later. Here are some examples of useful and inherently valuable giveaways:

·          Technology giveaways think Power Banks for phone charging or USB Drives

·         Snacks or coffee for the tired and hungry trade show masses

·         Gift cards for nearby restaurants and stores

·         Tote bags to carry around all the swag they are sure to be collecting 


Using these giveaway ideas will attract a large amount of visitors to your booth.  And now comes the hard part, creating and maintaining meaningful conversation and connections.

Product demonstrations are also a powerful tool in your exhibiting arsenal. Since attendees are in a buying mood having a tangible product that they can booth see and touch helps elevate their overall interest. Think about it, if you were looking to buy a car and you had the option of test driving one from on dealership or essentially blind buying one from another dealership you would more than likely ignore the former for the later.

Listening to Your Prospect

Now that you have attracted attendees to your booth it is crucial that you establish clear and effective communication with them. On the trade show floor failure to effectively communicate with a prospect not only hurts you at the moment, but it can also ding you down the line when you are following up with your leads. 

Active listening is a proven way to help facilitate good communication between individuals – and it’s a great way to build trust which is essential in any business relationship.  The act of active listening is listening to someone speak, waiting for the appropriate time to chime in, and then restating what the other person said using your own words.  In essence, you are both learning more about your sales prospect and making them feel valued at the same time. Here are some of the keys to active listening:

·         Face the speaker

·         Maintain eye contact

·         Minimize external distractions.

·         Respond appropriately to show that you understand

·         Focus solely on what the speaker is saying.

·         Minimize internal distractions

·         Keep an open mind

·         Engage yourself

By listening actively to your prospect you will be ready to identify their needs, proposes solutions your organization can offer and hopefully close the sale.  

Closing the Sale

Ask any salesmen, closing a sale is the most difficult part of the entire process. You can spend hours, days, weeks and months finessing a client, listening to them, attending to their concerns, getting them comfortable with both you and your brand only to have them pull out of a sale out of fear or some other unknown, but equally devastating reason. At a trade show closing a deal is a lot more difficult because the sales cycle is a lot shorter, while it is true that you can carry over the sales opportunity after the event, it is best to close a sale as soon as possible.

If you have used active listening techniques you will by this time have qualified a prospects needs. Once your prospect has given you clear buying indicators with statements like “how can your product X help me with problem Y?” or “I am interested in product X, but I need to learn more about it before I can make a decision.” you know it’s time to move in for the close. 

Your first move should be to immediately stop suggesting products and services, your prospect has already told you that they are interested in a specific item, now it’s time to influence them to buy.

Think about using a direct or indirect closing strategy:

Direct Closing Example: “Would you like me to send over a contract to your office? We can have product X shipped right away.” By using this method you are essentially letting your prospect know that the process of purchasing is simple, and you are also motivating them to make a decision now rather than later.

Indirect Closing Example: “So you are interested in buying product X, well our pricing on it is $X.XX, and I know that’s in your budget.” By using the indirect approach you are letting them know that they can buy now, but there is no pressure to do so.

Other closing tips:

·         You win some and you lose some, no matter what the end result make sure your prospect had an enjoyable experience

·         Be patient, if a prospect has shown genuine interest its best to allow them enough time to make up their minds without pressuring them into making a decision instantly

·         Smile, joke, show your personality during the whole process to take away some of the awkwardness that comes along with the sales dance

·         Never forget people buy from people not companies, sell your self

Hopefully some of these tips and advice will help you bring you’re A game to the trade show floor.

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Enter the characters shown in the image.

Partner Voices

An all-in-one technology partner Going hybrid using Swapcard's platform means you can do everything in one place. Registration, communication, live streaming, networking for on-site and online attendees, audience engagement tools and full analytical tracking are just some of the hybrid features that'll make your event a success. Authentic meeting opportunities