Working it

Trade shows are to salespeople what Christmas is to retailers. They offer a brief period when you have the potential to really overfill your leads pipeline.

To make the most out of a trade show, follow these 10 steps.

1. Obtain a list of attendees at least two weeks before the show. Plan to meet with targeted prospects at the booth, in your hospitality suite or over breakfast or dinner. Confirm meetings beforehand.

2. Use a team approach. Take advantage of your peers — meet often to debrief prospects, strategies and new ways to attract people into your booth.

3. Arrive a day early and stay a day (or two or three) later. Arriving early assures you are rested and organized on the first day of the show. Staying later gives you a chance to see hot prospects who might otherwise deteriorate and suffer the dreaded disease “show fever,” an affliction that affects trade show attendees approximately 12 to 48 hours after the show ends.

4. Consider conducting a group meeting for prospects who show interest at your booth. Invite them to see you in your hospitality suite either that evening or the next for a formal discussion/presentation of your service.

5. Draw people into the booth. An eye-catching display, self-scoring tests, a seven- to 10-minute closed curtain presentation and drawings and contests are all ways to attract people. However, people do business with people, which means you need to retune your bonding skills for these brief encounters. Are you chasing people away by lingering in front of the booth, like a vulture awaiting its prey?

6. Sift the prospects from the suspects. You don’t have to tell your story to everyone … and it’s OK to ask questions to determine who is qualified to hear your story.

7. Don’t serve as an educator to everyone. Ask questions to determine who gets your time and energy. At the same time, look for a decision, even if it’s a no, from the prospects you talk to at the booth. Sometimes it’s worse to have too many leads after a show than too few.

8. Know that the pace of trade show selling is more accelerated than the standard sales call. While you are selling one prospect, 10 more could pass you by. Get the proper training to juggle prospects simultaneously. Learn how to get prospects to tell you what they want in a hurry.

9. You must want to work a show, not view it as a duty you’ve been called on to perform. Without the right internal motivation, no one could possibly endure the grueling pace a busy trade show demands. Assign it to someone else if you aren’t up to the task.

10. Know ahead of time what your plan is for post-show behavior. How will you combat show fever? Jeff Ruby is president of The Ruby Group Inc., an authorized licensee for Sandler Sales Institute. He can be reached at (330) 929-9449.