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At a Trade Show, You Are Your Company 

By Julia O'Connor

Visitors rushing down the aisle, giving you the 3-second look-over and the 3-minute "What do you do?" opening. This may be the only time your company has to make a first impression - any impression! Make it positive. 

According to The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), it's the staff in the booth that has the most impact on the bottom line. So when it's your turn to "Stand in the booth and hand out brochures", here are the criteria I'll use to judge you... 

Professionalism - Proper booth etiquette. Look good, smell good. Stand up, don't sit and slouch. No food, drink, cell phone, etc. Don't chat with other staff. Face front so the visitor looks at your exhibit. Practice all those Good Manners you know. 
Active Engagement - Eye contact. Firm handshake. Approachable body language. Look interested in me. 

Conversation Starters - Ask intriguing questions or first statements. Are you interested in me or am I just a body to give a brochure to? Don't force handouts on me. 
Adequate Staff - Are there enough people to handle the audience? Suggested ratio is 2 staff per 10'x10' space. 

Qualifying Techniques - Do you ask questions before giving a sales pitch? Do you listen to me? Do you know what I'm talking about? 

Informed and Helpful - If you can't answer my question, do you have a suggestion? Do you know who has the answer? Will somebody follow up, or is it up to me to find out on my own? Does your company have competent people? Do I trust you to work with my company? 
The Close - How does the conversation end? The purpose is to move the sales process forward. Take your calendar! Did you suggest an appointment? A meeting at my office? Do I get the brush-off? Do I feel like I got the brush-off? 

Trade shows are hard work - physically, emotionally and fiscally - but it's the best face-to-face marketing event on earth. Use it well. EM
Julia O'Connor, is President of Trade Show Training, Inc. She can be reached at 804-355-7800 [email protected] 

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