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13 Best Practices for Trade Show Sales

Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Chris Smith is a USA Today bestselling author and the co-founder of Curaytor, a social media, digital marketing and sales coaching company...

Sep 19 6 minutes read

Trade shows are not small investments. We spend over a quarter million dollars putting together our conference, Curaytor Excellence, and invest in exhibiting at, or attending, other trade shows, as well. When you’re investing financially, your team has to invest just as much.

Listen to my trade show best practices on the go - listen on iTunes and Stitcher.

Grab & Go Mindset. 

Yes, you have a booth. Yes, you have a space - but your willingness to walk out of that space, grab people and engage them to bring them back to your booth is where the trade show is won or lost. Don’t stand there like a statue. Grab people and bring them in.

Small Talk With A Purpose. 

Keep in mind that people at trade shows go to many booths, not just yours, so what you say to people needs to have purpose. 

Make better small talk that includes a custom greeting full of excitement, personal to you. Consider what your competition is likely saying to their customers and develop a differentiator by coming up with an opening question that makes you stand out.

Candy Is For Suckers. 

Your swag needs to be special. Fill your booth with valuable things that people will remember. Again, consider what everybody else is giving away — pens, candy, iPads — give away something that is truly worth stopping by for: content, books or knowledge through your media, to name a few.

The Perfect Elevator Pitch. 

Ask yourself: What is the most powerful thing we can say in 60 seconds? Trade shows are fast-paced. There are going to be thousands of people who come to your booth that won’t allow you to give them a full demo or pitch, so your elevator pitch is your full pitch— and it has to be so great that if that’s all they get, they might remember it.

Here’s an example: 

“My company is all about making small businesses grow faster. We use Facebook ads to take people’s databases and we make it bigger in the first two months than they’ve made it in the past two years. One of our co-founders wrote a bestselling book on lead conversion and we’ve been featured by AdWeek, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Inc. just announced that we’re one of the 500 fastest growing companies in America.” 

Clearly Defined Goals.

I understand that your primary goal is making a sale, but it would be foolish to have no goals beyond that. 

In The Conversion Code, I talk about Preferred Additional Outcomes.

Of course you want to make a sale, but what if you don’t? What’s the next thing you want? Make a list of what these goals are for you. At Curaytor, ours might look something like this:

  1. Sales
  2. Referrals
  3. Business Development Opportunities
  4. Speaking Opportunities
  5. Networking with other booths

Always On The Clock.

A lot of these trade show schedules include parties. Don’t ruin your brand at night. Sure, you want to network, but when you’re on the clock, make sure you’re partying with a purpose.  

Hold yourself to an “on the clock” mindset from the second you leave your house, until the second you get back. Some of the things that can ruin your brand the most are the things that happen at 2 a.m. 

Be Presentable.

Being on time, looking fresh, and smelling good with energy to spare is not a request, it’s a requirement. Do not be late to the booth or come in smelling like alcohol with your shirt half-tucked in and wrinkled. If you’re going to the trade show, you’re going there to work. 

Planting Seeds.

Understand that the first few days of multi-day trade shows might just be for planting seeds. Then, on the later days, you turn the corner. Think of it like Gary Vee’s book: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. You don’t want to go for the kill on day one. You want to wow them with a great first impression so that you can strike later. Come in with a gatherer mindset, and finish up with a hunter mindset. 

Business Cards Suck, But They’re Part Of The Game. 

Don’t hate the player, hate the game. While I hate business cards and think they’re obsolete, they’re part of the trade show culture. Give out as many as you can, and collect as many as you can.

Want more sales tips?

Read my 12 Pro Tips for Outside Sales.

Read More

Pre-Show Stalk.

Just like you would for a phone call, do your research before a trade show. 

When you do a pre-show stalk, you need to figure out which clients, leads and speakers are going to be there.

Communication With Home Office Is Key.

If you’re in the middle of a trade show and you come across a great lead, their business card may get lost in the shuffle. As opportunities comes in, send the info to your employees at the office and then move on. Being in a chaotic environment, you’re going to forget as much as you can remember, so when you identify a good lead, opportunity or conversation, send the info to your employees and let them handle the rest.

Turn On ‘Out Of Office’ Announcements.

I know it sucks to put up an OOO when you have new leads coming in, you have to turn it on while at a trade show. This is not optional. You have to be laser focused on the trade show and paying attention to the people who are in front of you. This means eliminating distractions and re-routing your leads to the people who aren’t out of office during that time.

A Full Calendar.

When you’re working at a trade show, your inside sales and demos inevitably go down, so make sure that your calendars are slammed for when you get back. You don’t want to ease your way back into work, you want to hit the ground running on the Monday that you get back.

Hear more #CallsWithChris

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