10 Tips for Having GREAT Conversations at Trade Shows

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Are you tired of being IGNORED at trade shows and other events?

Businesses often spend tens of thousands of dollars and MORE to participate in them. That puts a LOT of pressure on sales reps to connect with attendees and have conversations with them that result in an adequate number of sales to pay off the investment in event-related marketing. 

Check out these ten PROVEN ways to engage with people at trade shows and get them to talk with you. Training your reps on how to use these techniques will help them close more deals at trade shows.

1. Ask people their opinions.

Who doesn’t like to tell others what they think? Few people can resist expressing their opinions, which is why this is an awesome engagement technique. It’s also a great way to quickly find out if someone is a potential client.

Here’s how to do it:

Start by saying something like: Can I ask your opinion?

Then ask about something related to THEIR business that connects it with YOUR business. For example: Which is more critical to the success of your company, your color printer or phone system?

We guarantee this will get people talking, revealing how much they know about your company, whether they’re decision-makers and if they’re worth pursuing as customers.

2. Record it.

If you express an opinion and no one records it on camera, does it matter?

These days, people are more willing than ever to have what they say recorded for posterity.

If you’re asking people what they think, why not film it? It gives your reps a complete record of their conversations that can be used to guide their follow-ups. 

Here’s how to do it:

Work alone or with a partner. Make it clear to attendees you want to record them. Explain why. Then ask a question on camera.

This technique makes uncomfortable small talk unnecessary. The camera is a distancing device that makes it easier to get people to engage in conversations. Plus, it gives your reps cover as filmmakers. It’s an ideal way to gather intel on prospects.

P.S. Even if people don’t want to be filmed, it’s still a good way to engage them in conversation because you’ve broken the ice and they may still be willing to talk.

3. Schedule video interviews.

Take the recording technique outlined above to the ULTIMATE level: Ask people attending trade shows to book appointments to be filmed during events. It’s a proven technique that strokes their egos and makes them feel important.

Here’s how to do it:

Get access to email lists from trade show sponsors. Send personalized emails a few weeks before events requesting on-camera interviews. Explain why you want to talk with them and what you’ll ask them about.  Who can say no to being treated like a respected expert in their field?

4. Don’t buy lunch — or cocktails — for people you know.

Many reps make the mistake of buying coffee, meals or drinks at events for people they’re already working with. BIG mistake. Instead of spending your entertainment budget on current clients, reserve it for people you could be doing business with. 

Here’s how to do it:

Get a list of trade show attendees prior to events. Work with your team to identify the best prospects. Send them an email — or message them through Linkedin — a few weeks before the shows. Identify yourself and explain why you want to meet. Invite them out for coffee, drinks, a meal or event, based on their future business potential. Most people won’t be able to say no to something free, especially with today’s tight travel budgets.

5: Leverage “connectors.”

Connectors are people who can connect you with others you want to meet. They work in a field you’re targeting and know a lot of prospective customers. Connectors are able to introduce you to them and help facilitate conversations. People are more willing to do business with reps they’re introduced to by trusted sources rather than ones they meet cold.

Here’s how to do it:

Offer to host a happy hour, dinner or other event for connectors and the people in their networks. Send invitations a few weeks prior to trade shows. The timing helps ensure they’re available and not already booked. Then use the events to meet, greet and have conversations with as many prospective customers as possible.

6. Qualify prospects quickly.

One of the biggest mistakes reps make at trade shows is spending too much time with people that will never become customers. This reduces the efficiency of their trade show selling efforts. They need to have more conversations with qualified prospects.

Here’s how to do it:

Use Mobile Locker’s business card scanner to take pictures of attendee business cards. It automatically uploads the information on them to a database. At the same time, it scans the internet for complete information about the prospects, which is made available in real-time. You’ll be able to instantly decide whether they’re qualified — and worth having a conversation with — or not.

Our business card scanner has been proven to be one of the best investments you can make in trade show sales and marketing. Contact us to learn more.

7. Say yes, yes, yes.

This common sales technique is used by many reps. It helps get fast buy-in and agreement from buyers, making it easier to close deals. It can also be used as a qualifying technique at trade shows.

Here’s how to do it:

Ask three questions that a qualified buyer will answer yes to. Start with the broadest, most general question and then get more pointed and specific until you hit the final one. For example:

  • Do you have customers you love working with?
  • Would you like to do more for them?
  • What would you say if I am able to introduce you to a solution that could do just that?

The broad initial question makes it easy to engage with people. The series of three makes it quick and simple to qualify them. If someone answers no, it’s time to move on.

8. Ask people why they’re attending.

It’s a big cost and time commitment to attend trade shows. Everyone has a reason for being there. Why not use that as a stepping-off point for engaging with them?

Here’s how to do it:

Simply ask attendees a friendly question like: What brings you to the event today? The answer most people give will make it clear whether they’re a qualified buyer or a browser. Have conversations with buyers and wish browsers a good day and encourage them, in a polite and friendly way, to move on.

9: Ask what they’ve seen at the show that they found interesting.

This is one of the most powerful opening lines and qualifying questions for sales reps to use at trade shows. People enjoy sharing their experiences at events.

Here’s how to do it:

Ask a simple question like: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen at the show? If they mention a competitor’s display or something related to what you’re selling, they could be a good prospect. If they bring up something far afield, it’s probably smart to move on to the next prospect.

10. Be accessible.

One of the biggest barriers to conversations at trade shows are… barriers.

Many companies put their reps behind tables, literature stands, and signs. You can’t expect people — especially shy ones — to cross them to introduce themselves. You need to make salespeople accessible.

Here’s how to do it:

Design a trade show booth that’s warm, open and completely accessible. Eliminate barriers to meeting with your reps. Put them out in the aisle or near the entrance to your booth.

Download our free 8 step guide on how to instantly increase the ROI of your next trade show

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