October 27, 2011

Ask The Tradeshow Coach: Getting The Booth Support You Need!

Category: Q&A — admin @ 9:52 pm

Dear Mr. Hill:

I sell, as part of a team, very expensive software computer systems for the Internet analysis market consisting of a hardware engineer, software engineer and a sales person who also acts as a project manager. When the company participates in a trade show the only people that they send from the company is the sales staff. What frustrates me is when I am at a trade show and a prospect comes to the booth with his Chief Technical Officer and starts asking very detailed technical questions. I can handle some of them, but I certainly could use some technical support from my company. How do I tell my manager who is always complaining about cost of sales and costs associated with a trade shows, that I need this support in order to be more successful at a trade show. You can only tell a prospect, “I’ll get back to you on that” only once before they go look at someone else’s software and equipment.
Ed T., Technical Sales
New York City


Dear Ed:
I could write a book just on companies who invest major money in booths and equipment for a trade show but do not “man” the booth with enough of the right people. Many years ago when I was President & CEO of a company that manufactured application oriented computer systems, I was faced with a similar problem. What I did was develop, what I referred to, as a “Tiger Team” consisting of a hardware, software and sales person. They not only worked together, they also shared in commission as well. When we went to a trade show I usually sent two teams. If it was to a show in California I send the teams that were working and selling in California and the sales territory next to it. While the sales people got them into the booth, the rest of the team were given the opportunity to speak with them and to get more of the details necessary to be able to respond to the prospect in a detailed and timely fashion. It also prevented the sales person from being to enthusiastic and promising the prospect the world! This whole approach worked very well, and also got the respect of the hardware and software engineers who participated in the trade show. Most engineers think that a trade show, in a city like Las Vegas, is all fun and games and all the sales people do is party. They found out that is not the case, and that the real work started each day, after the trade show closed for that day, when we went back to the hotel room and reviewed and analyzed all of the leads that we acquired at the show that day. The discussion was lively, the leads challenged as to whether it was a lead that should be followed up in a week or a month. But it made everyone aware of how important it was to work as a team and to support each other, and to qualify the suspects and prospects. I hope this give you some insight into how important it is to have the right support people in the booth.
To your continued trade show success
John Hill, Trade Show Coach

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