If you have a 10 foot booth, you have approximately 3 seconds to make an impression on an attendee passing your booth. If your company name does not spark an interest, or your “tag” line does not give the person any hope of finding out what your company does, then you are the person that is going to make it happen!
Be prepared with a number of great lines that can be used on a myriad of attendees that will be passing your booth.
You have to be aggressive; you have to want to do business you have to be “on”. If you have no intention of taking an aggressive and positive attitude while you are in your booth, why are you there in the first place?
Technical Trade Shows and the people that stand booth duty are frustrating to work with. They usually talk in a language, using, letters, and buzz words that only another person, in the same industry will understand.
What these technical companies have a tendency to forget is that not everyone that works for, or buys technical products or services, knows the technical language. Therefore, companies selling technical products should be able to speak in a language that will be understood by the general public, not get the technical literate. I was once given the task to sell a digital voltmeter to a maitre’d in a restaurant.
If you want to generate business you had best be able to speak the language that will be understand by the person you are trying to sell.
Many companies still make decisions to invest thousands of dollars in a major trade show and do not leave themselves sufficient time to plan and coordinate this effort. Under these conditions they end up making decisions in a panic, and managing in crisis. A company needs to investigate, discuss, plan, coordinate and commit to all the facets of a trade show if they expect to have a successful trade show experience. Considering that only 15% of the exhibitors at any trade show are successful, it is important that a company has sufficient time and that everyone within the organization is aware of the importance of this effort.
You cannot and should not consider doing a trade show and not giving yourself and other members of the company sufficient time to get their act together. What I mean by this is, if you have products to display, you need to get with manufacturing, production or engineering so that you can put on display the best possible product that really shows the true capabilities of your company. Just displaying any old thing that you had in the back room certainly does not give a positive message to either the company employees, or the attendees at the trade show that will be looking at equipment. How will the presentation of the company person in the booth go? “Well, this is not our latest equipment, this is what we had available.” What are you telling the prospect that has stopped to look at your products? This company has so much business, they really are not interested in new clients, or they really don’t care. What type of effort, and how does your company approach going to a trade show?
Too many companies go to trade shows, and have no idea what the profile of their client is. They sign up for trade shows that have the wrong audience, because they have no idea who they intend to sell to. You have to know who your potential client is before you make an investment in a trade show.
Without knowing the type of company, size, industry and product or service offered you are not prepared to be an exhibitor at any trade show. If you are not sure who your client is, then look at your 10 major clients and get as much information on them as you possible can. Look at their SIC codes, their NCIS codes, industry, products and services.
That should give you any indication of who you should be targeting, and what they are buying.
Business is a game.
Business to many people is a game, but it is a very serious game. Consider the fact that as an owner or President of a company, you have the responsibility of the people who work for you.
In this day and age there are a number of associations and government organizations that will help a company to succeed. Know who you are dealing with and know who you should be dealing with.
One of the problems faced by most companies that participate in a trade show as an exhibitor is the amount of paperwork that has to be completed to become an exhibitor. It is a step by step process that, over the years the trade show organizers have tried to make it easier, or more efficient, but they certainly do not have the exhibitor at heart. In most cases they have tried to make it easier for themselves, not necessarily for the exhibitor.
The sequence of events that happens is usually the same for most every trade show. You go to the trade show web site, request a copy of the trade show form, print it out, fill it in, and return it with a check for the cost of the booth space. When that is done then you will usually receive a loose leaf binder, with sections for each of the exhibitor’s requirements.
Drayage, Electrical, Signage, Carpentering, and booth furniture are but a few of the major items listed.
Each has a date assigned to when you have to have this documentation completed and returned to the company, obviously with your check. If you get the information completed and sent back in a timely fashion, usually you will receive a discount for these services.
If you don’t pay attention to these time frames it will cost you more money because you will be penalized for not having your information returned in a timely fashion.
You as the person responsible for the trade show should organize your information so that you know exactly when the information requested must be returned.
If you use a spread sheet listing the name of the item, along with the date the information is due back at the trade show producer’s home office it will certainly help to keep everyone focused, efficient and on time.
Your spread sheet for completions of trade show tasks should contain the following:
Name of product or service requested
Date the documentation and check is required back in the Trade Show Producer’s Office.
Name of the person at the company responsible for this task
List of names, if necessary that must approve this request
The check # and when the check must be ready. (How many times have companies missed the dates because the checks were not drawn in a timely fashion, because Finance wanted to hold on to the fund until the very last minute)
The date the information was completed and sent back to the Trade Show Producer. (Send registered mail or FEDX so you have complete accountability. It’s worth the few more dollars for the peace of mind)
Make copies of everything, and keep them in a binder for quick reference.
In fact, you should make at least two copies of all of the documentation that has been completed and returned to the trade show producer.
A copy is for your accounting department, and a copy to take with you to the trade show. Why? Well it is not uncommon for the trade show producer to loose your information. You do not want to be standing in line waiting to make arrangements for your carpeting or carpenters, and when you get to the counter and the person ask your name and says they cannot find your information, they are certainly not going to stop and look just for your information. What usually happens is that you are put at the end of the line and when they have taken care of all of those exhibitors that have documentation, they will then attend to you. It makes for a last minute trade show set up, and certainly doesn’t put you as an exhibitor in a positive frame of mind.
Anticipate the potential problems, makes copies and have then with you at the trade show. It will certainly save you a lot of time and frustration.
Also make a form that list all of the expenses associated with this trade show. As a person responsible for the trade show you need to be able to justify the cost of this show, based on the amount of business opportunities (Leads) that this trade show produced.
So you’ve made a quality contact at your tradeshow booth? What next? Do you write their information on the back of a business card? NO! Everyone should use a qualification form. Not sure what a tradeshow qualification form is? Watch this video to learn more.
Many years ago, as a sales engineer, I was working for a West Coast electronic manufacturing company. My territory covered New England, and I spent a lot of time in Massachusetts. One of my key accounts was in Pittsfield, MA. The town and everybody in it were involved in one way or another with this government contractor. You could say it was a government contractor town and Company doing work for the Navy. The two questions people asked you when you arrived at this government contractor’s facility was, do you have any relatives that work at this company, or have you ever done work for the United State Navy. I told them that no one in my family was associated with this company, but I did serve five years in the United States Navy. That seems to please the people in charge. Anyone that did work with government contractor was reminded, more then a few times that this government contractor facility works exclusively for the United States Navy. When you went to lunch, it was to the one of the local restaurants recommended by government contractor. If you stayed in one of the motels, it was again recommended by government contractor. It was a complement to government contractor and the positive attitude of the employees as well as a show place for the US Navy.
The company that I was working for had a major system contact with this government contractor. I had to call on the account monthly to insure that everything was to the satisfaction of both government contractor and the Navy. As the contact was coming to its conclusion, we were told that there would be spares to be ordered. What we did not know at the time was that we would be assigned a purchasing agent to negotiate this contract.
My contract was assigned to a purchasing agent who happened to be a retired Air Force Colonel, and very unhappy he had been sent to Pittsfield. He made it known that he despised the Navy, and anyone associated with it. How or why he ended up at this government contractor facility is still a mystery to me. When you went into his office, on his desk was his name plate that stated Colonel Andrew Whitman (retired). He also requested that you refer to him as Colonel. He was small in size and very impressed with his own importance. After a few meetings, it was obvious that he wanted to speak with someone higher in my company, and requested that I get senior management here to finalize the paperwork, and price on this spares contract. I had no choice but to call my VP of Sales, Mr. Jack Cutter. Jack said he was making the rounds of the sales offices and would be back there in a few days, since he was on the way to finalizing on a major contract at the Chicago office, and I could pick him up at the airport on Wednesday.
Wednesday came and I met Jack at the airport that morning around nine AM. I knew something was wrong when I saw Jack come down the passageway somewhat disheveled. It was obvious that he had slept in his suit, and his shirt looked like he had been wearing it for a week. I asked Jack how he felt, and he told me great because he had closed one of the biggest contacts in the company’s history, and the reason that he looked the way he did was that they, the sales team and the client, had been out all night celebrating. In fact, he came directly from the party to the plane, feeling no pain with very little sleep and no food. He assured me, he was on a wining streak, and ready to beat down the government contractor doors and do business.
We arrived at government contractor, a little after 11:00am. I had asked Jim, who was looking a little under the weather, if he would like a cup of coffee or to have something to eat. He said that his stomach was not in the best of shape, because of all the drinking he had done the night before, but he assured me that he was fine. I forgot to tell you that Jack also served in the Navy and was over 6’4’’ in height, and since I am 6’2’’ we made a formidable pair.
We were shown into the Colonel office. He was sitting behind his desk, and was not pleased to see two people our size coming through his doorway. The Colonel was so short he had to look up to talk with us. He couldn’t wait until we took our seats. Jack was not aware of the fact that this person wanted to be called Colonel, and started off by saying, “It’s a pleasure to meet you Andy” at which the Colonel interrupted Jack and said, “Yes, my name is Andrew but I prefer to be called Colonel, it puts things into the proper prospective” You can imagine the look at Jack’s face when the Colonel said that. Jack, without loosing a beat said, “Fine Colonel, but rather than you call me Mr. Cutter, Jack will be fine” The Colonel accepted that with very little comment.
The Colonel spent the next five minutes personally reviewing the contract file. It was obvious he wanted to make everyone present know that he was in charge. He went on to say that although the contract was completed with our company the Navy and government contractor still have the upper hand. He said based on his experience he felt the government contractor and the Navy had paid too much for the system, and he felt it was his responsibility to recoup some of, what he referred to as losses. The Colonel was really getting on his soap box, and all we could do was sit there and wait for him to finish. All this time I was watching Jack, who was obviously not feeling good, wondering how he was going to handle this situation. As the colonel continued his lecture, Jack interrupted him and said, “Colonel, would you mind handing me your wastepaper basket”. The Colonel, not knowing what to expect, handed it to Jack. Jack immediately stuck his head in the basket and barfed. The Colonel just looked on in a state of shock. When Jack was finished, he handed the basket back to the Colonel, and said, “Now as you were saying Colonel”. The Colonel, still not sure just what happened, repeated, “I expect to see a major discount on these spares of at least 40%” Jack looked him and said, “The company does not discount spares more than 10%” The Colonel, than said, “This is not good enough for this government contractor or the US Navy” Just then Jack interrupted the Colonel again, and said “Colonel, can I have your wastebasket again?” which the Colonel did begrudgingly, at which time Jack again stuck his head in the wastebasket and barfed again. At which point the Colonel could not take this any more, stood up and said, “OK, OK you got the order, and forget about the discount, just get out of my office I will send the paper work to you” Jack thanked the Colonel for the order, and wanted to shake hands but the Colonel declined.
As we left the building, I looked at Jack and said, “I have never used that approach to close and order” Jack said, “Besides not feeling good I had no intention of listening to the Colonel go on and on. If I excused myself and went to the bathroom then came back, the Colonel would have started all over again. So I figured I had nothing to loose, and the only thing he could do at that point was throw us out of his office, which he did, but he did give us the order” Jack looked at me and said that if I told anyone what happened in there he would kill me! When the President of the company called me, and thanked me for my effort with the government contractor account, I told him that it was all Jim’s unique negotiating skills that made the difference.
Does your company have a descriptive tagline? If notwatch this video to further understand the importance of a descriptive company name and tagline. Enjoy this excerpt from an interview with Trade Show Expert John Hill – Topic: Develop A Solid Tagline