Whether you’re a trade show veteran or attending your first event, contributor Polly Alluf’s tips will help you engage with attendees and make a connection.
I recently attended Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile industry event, and as I returned from Barcelona, I thought about lessons I’ve learned over the past decade, attending martech shows both as a buyer and as a seller.
One of the challenges at trade shows is the hybrid nature of onsite teams. Presumably, most members of the team are salespeople or SDRs (sales development reps) who are used to qualifying leads on the fly.
However, many booths are manned by professionals whose daily job function doesn’t involve direct lead qualification (think Marketing, Product or even R&D), and for them, proper time management during a busy show can prove challenging. As a member of the latter group, I’ve learned some important lessons about making the most of the quick conversations that are the staple of every trade show.
Here are four helpful tips to help you get the most out of your trade show interactions, whether you are a seasoned salesperson or a trade-show newbie:
1. Look at their badge!
Looking at a visitor’s badge should tell you not just the person’s name, but also his or her company and, if you’re lucky, their title. Often, it helps you understand something about the relevancy of your product for their business.
Additionally, knowing the guest’s industry (whether it’s travel, finance or any other) can help you tailor your examples to best fit their world.
2. Ask a yes/no question
Every exhibiting company should have one clear indication of whether a booth visitor is relevant in the first place. In my case today (as VP Marketing of in-app marketing platform Insert), the question about any prospect is: “Does your company have a mobile app?”
Simple. If the answer is no, then that’s it, and we can say our friendly goodbyes.
3. Don’t overestimate the lead temperature
In our digital data-driven era, we’ve developed sophisticated mechanisms to tell us whether a lead is hot, cold or getting warmer. But at shows, you can’t rely on data and systems — only on yourself and your team.
When an attendee walks by, you have no clue about her level of interest. Is she actively looking for an in-app marketing solution? Is she unhappy with another solution? Maybe she’s just strolling around, looking to see interesting tech, and just happened to walk by your stand.
Typically, when we meet people at shows, we have a euphoric feeling that they are somewhat warmer than they really are. Of course, they’re not super-cold, but it’s fair to say they’re at room temperature; if you managed to drive them to see a proper demo, you stand a chance to warm them up at turbo speed, but then it’s in the hands of sales.
4. Brag! The time for excitement is now!
Show time is extremely limited, so you need to quickly shine in hopes that the person on the other end will ask you for more information. What happens often is that people feel that they have to tell their entire two-paragraph story about who they are and what they do. But those walking by are listening to so many stories all day, and sometimes they may say: “Oh, I’ve heard that story before.”
Guess what? People all around you are using very similar buzzwords.
So tailor your pitch to make it the most interesting to the person in front of you. And use your environment!
Your booth decor can help complete your story, and by gesturing to your walls, you’ll be able to convey your key differentiators. (For example, our booth decor indicates we’re the only ones that let you create in-app campaigns without any help from developers).
If you get a guest to look further, you’ve warmed them up.
Booth design has two purposes: drawing attention and explaining your advantages.
It’s show time!
Trade shows hopefully mean busy days. Mobile World Congress certainly was. Lots of people swarming in and out of your aisle, starting a conversation or being dragged into a conversation.
Make sure you maximize your stay at a trade show and have as many meaningful conversations on-site as possible. Then make sure you have a great qualification and nurturing system waiting for you when you get back to the office.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.