Exhibitions are one of the few events where the seller has the opportunity to be face-to-face with a potential buyer, projecting an image that will forever influence their attitude and most probably the relation with the brand. It can be compared to buying a pair of shoes; if someone sees a poorly presented pair of shoes in a fashion show, the chances that they will visit the store in the future are close to nil.
First impressions certainly do count and can be essential particularly at an exhibition. Whilst there is no definitive way of attracting people to an exhibition stand, creating an original, classy mix of professional attitude and inter-personal selling skills can be a great place to start.
It’s not enough to just have a great looking exhibition stand – the attitude, appearance, body language and knowledge of your stand staff is critical for your future relationships with attendees, prospects and clients.
Make sure your staff are well trained, understand the objectives of the stand and each member’s specific role in achieving them. Tell them why you are exhibiting, what you’re exhibiting, what you expect of them and show them how to do what you expect of them.
The staff you select for your stand must be good listeners. Remember that the best sales people don’t always make the best stand staffers! Business surveys suggest that most sales people talk too much and that sales people are more interested in talking about their products and/or services than listening to the visitor’s requirements and challenges.
When it comes to behaviour and attitude, one should realize that the secret of selling at an exhibition does not only take interpersonal skills, but also knowledge of the expertise of the company that is represented. There is nothing worse than interacting with someone who is not clearly educated on what the company is about. As professionals recognize, enthusiasm is a key element – “nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm… and a great smile!”
Exhibitors are industry performers as they need to surface act for a long period of time. This process, defined by psychology as emotional labour, involves managing emotions in order to be consistent with organizational or occupational display rules, regardless of whether they are discrepant with internal feelings. Displaying at an exhibition definitely has certain effects on the exhibitor that they need to overcome and surpass. Performing at exhibition stands require face-to-face and voice-to-voice contact with the public, requiring the exhibitor to evoke an emotional state in another person and allow themselves to exercise a degree of control over their emotional activities – control which may lead to stress and alienation.
Essentials of Exhibition Selling
There are four essential exhibition selling skills your salespeople need to know about.
(1) Product knowledge. The primary reason visitors attend a show is to learn about “what’s new“ and to get detailed product/service information. They want to speak to knowledgeable staffers so that they can get their questions answered.
(2) Competitive knowledge. It’s important to know and study the competition. Your visitors will expect you to know how your products compare with or differ from the competition’s.
(3) Consultative selling. The basic skill here involves asking powerful and insightful questions that will either qualify or disqualify visitors. You want to ensure that you spend the right amount of time with the right people.
(4) Getting rid of window-shoppers. Along with legitimate prospects, your stand will attract window-shoppers — people who are really not interested in buying. Your staffers need skills to move these people along gently and quickly.