Approaching visitors to your exhibition stands

17 August 2014

The first thing that needs to be impressed on stand staff is that the “Can I help you?” approach simply invites the “No thanks, I’m just looking” response. And that’s the end of the interview and another selling opportunity has been wasted. It is much better to be positive, to ask the visitor a question which will be the start of a conversation and which will immediately show whether or not he is a genuine prospect or just a casual browser. This, of course, is more easily said than done, so we now make a few suggestions as to possible approaches.

(a) Brand name
(b) Product
© Feature
(d) Benefit
(e) Problem

Each, of course, will be specifically related to the business you are in.

“Are you using (a or b) at the moment?”
“Have you used (a or b)?”
“Do you ever use (b)?”
“What are you using for (e) at the moment?”
“This is our new (b)?”
“Let me show you (b)” (N.B. Not “Can I. ..”)
“It’s a very interesting (b), isn’t it?”
“What is your particular interest in (a, b, c, d)?”
“How familiar are you with our (b)?”
“How much are you involved in …?”
“How much are you influenced by ©?”
“How important is © to you?”
“This has been developed to meet the problem of (e)”
“What influences you most in your choice or (b)?”
“How closely are you involved in buying (b)?”
“How does this compare with what you are using at the moment?”
“What are your special requirements in ©?”
“What advantage would © be to you?”

The response to any of these remarks will immediately indicate if the visitor is a genuine prospect. If he is, make certain that you get his name and company. It is useful, also, to get the address and phone number, but you may need to press hard to get this information – don’t worry, there are Directories – and even Yellow Pages. If it becomes obvious that he is not the buyer, then try to get the buyer’s name – but don’t forget that follow up material should be sent to the visitor as well as to the buyer.

Names and addresses — leads — prospects whatever you call them, these are the lifeblood of the salesman and this is the information that your stand staff should be aiming to get from every visitor. It is worth getting special exhibition inquiry or report forms printed which your staff, or even the prospect himself, can fill in on the spot to obtain all the information needed for successful follow-up. The details which should be obtained are:

1. Name of visitor
2. His company
3. Company address and telephone number
4. Position of visitor in company
5. Name of buyer if not the visitor
6. Area of interest
7. What literature/information given on thestand?
8. Appointment to visit made? What time/date?

Copies (have these forms printed on N.C.R. – No Carbon Required – paper) should go to the sales manager, the salesman who will follow up, and to whoever is responsible for your mailing list.

These forms should be treated like gold -potentially they are gold! One person should be detailed to collect all the forms in at the end of the day and make certain that they are delivered to the right people for immediate action. At a busy exhibition it might be wise to collect and deliver twice a day. All follow-up should be as quick as possible.

Ensure that no areas of the stand are left unattended at any time nor allow grouping of stand staff under any circumstances. Remember staff cannot sell to each other. The visitor/customer comes first.

Matt has been in the exhibition industry for over 20 years and has run a successful exhibition graphics business for the last 10.

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