Prior to any woodworking or home show, expectations should be set for generating and qualifying prospects at that show. You can start by developing a list of qualifying questions. (See last’s week’s blog for examples.) After those questions are answered, set up 'closing’ statements and use a Wing-man to help end the discussions quickly. Statements like; "Thanks for stopping by the booth, is it OK if we follow up with you later next week?" or "I appreciate all the interest in our doors, enjoy the show" will usually end the conversation, but every so often, they don't get the hint and an attendee will not leave. That is where the Wing-man comes in. The Wing-man's job is to get you out of a long discussion so that you can move on to the next group of possible attendees. The Wing-man usually interrupts the conversation with "Rick, your 9 o'clock appointment is here" giving you the out if needed.
I realize that this method sounds rude, but remember that you have thousands of dollars in booth space, employee time, samples and freight just to exhibit in this show. Those thousands are being spent to find and qualify new business opportunities. During the 20 minutes you spent chit-chatting about the state of the economy with someone who won't buy your products, five good leads walked past your booth.
How do you get those five good leads walking buy to stop at your booth? Get out of the chairs, quit talking to the other sales people and touch someone. Attendees get bored walking past booth after booth and often don't see what you are showing. They become "aisle zombies" slowly staggering past looking for the exit. Your job as an exhibitor is to break the zombie spell.
Using the cabinet door example I mentioned last week, I would hold one of the nicest doors we make and stand on the edge of the aisle asking zombies, "Isn't this a nice door?" If they answer, I then ask the first qualifying question. "Do you buy doors?" If they say no, then I would thank them and move on to the next zombie.
For many years I sold hot melt glue, and while all the engineers and factory sales guys stood in the booth hoping someone would notice their beautiful signs, I stood near the aisle with a handful of hot melt pellets offering a "Free Sample" to the aisle walkers. When they stopped I would try to pour it in to their shirt pockets. The laugh usually got us into a conversation about glue and what they did or did not buy.
Remember, the goal is to attend shows that pay off in new business. Finding, qualifying and recording leads is the main priority. Next week I will talk about assessing responding and tracking those leads in an LRM.
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