Do’s and Don’ts to keep a conversation flowing at a trade show

There are many reasons to attend trade shows but the majority of people are there for one reason. According to Michael Heipel, “generating sales leads at trade shows ranks highest for most of the exhibiting companies.” In order to get quality leads, exhibitors must be able to communicate effectively. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep a conversation flowing at a trade show.

  • Do have an opener. When exhibiting at a trade show, it can be intimidating to see so many people walk by your booth. Have an opener ready so that you’re able to get people to stop at your booth or to get them to stay and chat with you longer. Ask open ended questions, such as “What do you do in the IT field?” This is something quick that you can say and it is non threatening, plus, people love to talk about themselves. Don’t ask the usual questions that have no meaning, such as “How are you?” where it’s easy for them to say “fine” and walk away.
  • Don’t sound like a robot. Even if you have an opener, try not to make it sound scripted and don’t memorize an entire sales pitch. People can tell if you’re being genuine or not. Even if you practiced everything that you wanted to say, make sure that the conversation flows naturally.
  • Do focus on your body language. Much can be said through body language, therefore, make sure that you’re projecting the right message so that people will want to stay and speak with you longer. Don’t cross your arms, tap your foot, or look over their shoulder. Make sure to make plenty of eye contact and be open and approachable.  
  • Don’t let anyone take up too much of your time. While sometimes it’s hard to get people to stop at your booth, other times, you can’t get people to leave! If it’s slow, this might not be a problem or if it’s someone that genuinely wants to learn about your company. However, if it’s someone that simply wants to talk about their personal life, you might be missing out on possible prospects. Remember not to be rude. Say something like “Well, it was very nice to meet you. We’ll be in touch!” 
  • Do let your personality shine through. Remember to be yourself. If you like to laugh and are having fun, let your clients see that. Ruthie Abraham from The Brand Builders says, “Don’t turn into a used car salesman or a newspaper hawker even though that might be your first instinct (there is something about watching people walk by your booth that brings that out in everyone!) Remember to put out the honey to draw the bees in.” People like talking to people they can relate to.
  • Don’t do all the talking. You’re at a trade show to share information and to find leads. This does not mean that you have to make the entire sale then and there. Get their information and ask if it’s okay to follow up with them. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re going to overwhelm them and you might miss some key information that will help you figure out which of your products or services they can benefit from. 
  • Do use giveaways to your advantage. Promotional items or “swag” are a great way to get people to stop at your booth. Have items that are fun and interesting (things other than pen and coasters) and people will stop by. Once they’re there, ask for their business card or talk about the cool promotional items. Because they’re getting something from you, they’ll also be more likely to share information. 


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