Qualifying Prospects at Your
Trade Show Display Booth

Having a trade show display at a key industry event can provide significant marketing and sales efficiencies. Show participation enables companies to have instant exposure to a significant number of high-opportunity prospects.

In addition, the personalized interaction with booth visitors during a show event can often shorten the purchase decision-making process, enabling you to convert prospects into customers in a condensed period of time.

Trade show events, by nature, have pre-selected audiences who share similar needs and concerns. When a visitor walks into your trade show booth, it means he or she has interest in what you are exhibiting and likely wants information, according to trade show expert Ken MacKenzie, who served as a senior consultant with a U.S. Trade Center.

Therefore, you have a prime opportunity to focus on your visitor and direct the conversation to how your products or services can best serve his or her needs. Mr. MacKenzie offers the following tips to maximize interaction.

Give Booth Visitors Your Full Attention

Always use active listening skills and maintain good eye contact with your prospects. Do not be distracted by something going on across the trade show floor or being interrupted by the ringing of your cell phone.

By focusing only on your visitor, you convey the message that you are available, willing to help and that you are devoting your full resources to him or her alone. That starts to give the trade show display booth visitor a feeling of “I've come to the right place.”

Listen Attentively and Listen Actively 

When a visitor enters your display area, ask about his or her needs and how you can help. Then simply focus on the individual and listen to what he or she has to say.

Some good listening techniques include leaning towards the speaker, nodding, showing signs of interest and encouragement, repeating words and never interrupting.

Listening attentively allows you to make a valid and sensible response to your visitor's statement or question. It also shows your trade show display booth visitor that you are sincerely interested in being of assistance in the best way that you can. It involves the skills of clarifying and confirming your understanding of what he or she says to you.

Use Clarifying Questions

You will get more helpful information from your booth visitor by asking clarifying questions, which are open-ended inquiries such as, "So what effect does that have on your...?" or "Can you explain a bit more about...?" or "How will that influence...?"

By this line of questioning, you are attaining a more in-depth understanding of the problem or issue so you can give a more accurate diagnosis or recommendation as to how you will solve his or her challenges.

Follow with Confirming Questions

Confirming questions help you clarify the issues your prospect is sharing and exhibit a commitment to solving his or her challenges. A question such as, "So your problem is ..., have I got that right?" would show that you not only understood but you can articulate the situation in your own words.

When you pro-actively engage in attentive, active listening, you glean important information that allows you to customize your message and begin building a relationship with the prospect. Together, these communications strategies serve as key catalysts to making a sale and achieving your trade show objectives.

Article information by Ken MacKenzie of "The Tradeshow Edge."

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