The secret to being a successful exhibitor

Richard Denny has attended more exhibitions and trade fairs than he can remember. Here he highlights 10 fundamental rules that exhibitors should follow if they wish to have a successful exhibition experience.

I attend as many exhibitions and trade fairs as my diary allows for the simple and obvious reason that it’s still a great way of staying in touch with new products, trends and of course the competition. I like to know what’s new, I like to have the interaction of people and it is so much more effective than just trawling the internet.

You might say “well is it really time/cost effective”? Yes, it most certainly can be. I find there is always change and something new, apart from one certainty and that is that approximately 40 per cent of people who are delegated to man the stands have not been trained. They have not been given basic instructions on how to behave and what the purpose of their attendance really is. It can cost a lot of money to rent the space and then produce an interesting and hopefully eye-catching trade stand, only to be devalued by the people manning that stand who are just not up to the professional skill level required.

Very rarely are sales and deals closed at these events, but that is not the purpose of the exhibitor, the real business starts when the exhibition or trade fair is concluded. So directors and business owners please don’t put people, and this may mean you as well, on manning a stand without some skill learning. Here are 10 tips on making the most of an exhibition or trade fair:

  1. The stand itself should be very simple and, on arrival at the stand, a visitor should be able to know within one second of looking at it exactly what you do.

  2. Avoid having lots of writing and words; it will not get read and will not convince anybody that you are right for them. The old saying goes, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, but in this case a picture is worth 50 words.

  3. The purpose of the stand is to attract only the people who could be interested in your product or service, so it should shout the benefits that relate to that person.

  4. The executives manning the stand must understand the key function is to get the information needed to make an effective follow up. So, the name and job title, telephone number, email and, of course, points of interest and points of discussion should all be gathered. Your success should be judged by numbers and the quality of people to follow up.

  5. Don’t be pushy, be pulley. Don’t stand in the aisle or in the front of the stand, stand a little inside and be welcoming; you want people to come over and not to be standing conversing in the aisle.

  6. Don’t stand at the back and please don’t sit down, unless, of course, you are in discussion with a visitor.

  7. It is absolutely essential to learn some basic selling skills, making eye contact, understanding how to sell yourself with the knowledge that people buy people.

  8. Don’t think your job is to give out literature. Most literature taken from an exhibition goes straight in the bin. One technique that can be very effective is to run out of literature and brochures but offer to put them in the post afterwards, which will enable you to collect a business card and details. Brochures and literature will make profits for the printers and designers, but very rarely for your business.

  9. Be really interested in the visitor and use the greatest selling skill of all – asking questions. Also, you should hone your listening skills and talk about what they are interested in.

  10. Yes, it can be very tiring being on your feet all day, but that last person coming onto the stand could well be the potential client that you are really looking for. Never prejudge people.

The follow up after the exhibition must be done within three days; just be aware that your competitors will be following up as well. For more detailed information and help, contact The Richard Denny Group. n