3 Tips to Winning at Your Next Trade Show

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It's a saying so true that it has become cliché—but it's a saying that has lasted for a reason. This is especially true for your Trade Show Booth staff and salespeople.

#1 - People Will Decide to Buy You before They Buy Your Product

A trade show, or an exhibition, is a non-stop series of beginnings. Every moment—from the second the doors open until they blink the lights signaling the end of the day—is a moment where you could be meeting customers for the very first time.

If all goes well, these crucial first moments will launch a mutually profitable relationship that will last for years. On the other hand, if the impression you create is not so positive, you've kissed a lifetime's worth of business goodbye.

Once you've established a positive relationship with a client, a foundation has been laid, the hard work of negotiating a deal or closing a sale becomes so much easier.

Today's buyers are nervous. Some have been through the dot-com bubble. They've may have seen Enron blow up, the 2008 market crash, and corporate scandal follow corporate scandal. Yet they still have to do business. How do they know who they can trust?

There will always be a due-diligence component to business, but a surprising amount of decisions are made by people "trusting their guts". During those crucial first minutes where you're checking out the attendee, they're checking you out. They are, perhaps unconsciously, assessing what they perceive as your intentions and motivations. Few people believe that they can get a good deal from someone they do not believe to be a good person.

#2 - Is your Body Language saying “Go Away” or “Welcome” ?

Non-verbal communication plays a huge role in creating first impressions. Attendees are constantly watching. If your body language conveys the fact that you don't want to be at the show, would prefer not to engage with attendees, or are just going through the motions, they'll pick up on that and go elsewhere.

Standing at the corner of your trade show exhibit with your arms folded tells attendees "Stay away! I'm on guard." Sitting down, flipping through a magazine, or chatting with colleagues says "I've got better things to do." All together, it means "You're not important to me," even if you ask the attendees what you can do for them today.

#3 - Listen More than you Talk

Yes, talking is important, but listening to the needs of the attendee and being authentic is even more so. Shift your focus from your own memorized sales pitch and ask thoughtful questions. This is one of the most effective ways to learn about your customers needs and establish a good precedent of how your company will do business with them.

Remember these 3 Tips before heading into your next trade show. You will be more relaxed, confident, and in turn cultivate higher quality connections during your time on the floor.

Joy Kennedy