The golden rules of exhibiting

  • Set targets: Be clear on what your objectives are for exhibiting and set measurable targets. If your objective is to collect 50 leads in a day and there are two of you on the stand, that means 25 leads each. If delegates are walking the floor for five hours, you have to collect five per hour, one every 12 minutes. By having a tangible target it gives everyone focus, and can add a fun element of competitiveness for the team on the day.
  • Practice your pitch: Some people call this the “elevator test”: You are in an elevator with your perfect prospect and you have just 30 seconds to convince them to buy what you are selling. Basically, it had better be a compelling pitch. Practice with colleagues before the event to ensure you have your introduction word perfect.
  • Know your event: Prior to the opening of the doors, take the opportunity to walk the floor and note the locations of toilets, cafés, food bars and newsagents. Get the show programme and memorise the times and locations for presentations and seminars. This simple information can be a useful conversation starter and demonstrates that you are well informed, helpful and friendly.
  • Engage the curious delegates: Delegates invariably fall into different categories, with the “curious delegate” being among the most prominent. This kind of delegate tends to sidle by, not wanting to commit to stopping or making eye contact. They will look at the stand, trying to suss out whether you are of interest. If you engage these people, you will double the number of leads you get. Remember to smile. Most people cannot help but smile back – then you have a conversation starter!
  • Recognise timewasters: Some delegates are simply not good prospects. Once you have made up your mind whether the person you are talking to has sales potential, either get their contact details or get rid of them. Always keep your target in the back of your mind.
  • Do not talk to each other: The only time you should really be talking to each other is if the stand is completely void of visitors. Then, you can talk to each other for the sole purpose of making the stand look busier. Do a bit of acting – one of you take the role of customer and practice your pitch. This works best if there is a third person who can keep an eye out for interested delegates.
  • Never eat on a stand: Not only does it look incredibly unprofessional and messy, it also says to your customers that your lunch is more important than talking to them. I always suggest taking a regular break, about once every two hours, which should give you ample opportunity to eat.
  • Do not sit down: You want to make it as easy as possible for delegates to approach you. If they are stood up and you are sat down, they instinctively feel like they are putting you out by forcing you to stand up if they approach you.
  • Record leads diligently: It is very tempting to think that you will remember the important details about a delegate after talking to them. The chances are that you will not remember everything, so make sure that you record what you talked about. Anything which will jog your prospect’s memory in your follow-up email will hugely improve your chances of doing business with them at a later date. 
  • Never leave the stand unattended: If you are not going to man the stand at all times, do not bother exhibiting – it is as simple as that. Organise a rota and make sure that everyone is present at peak times. Never pack down early as many delegates are still milling around at the end of an event, and it is prime time to steal their attention whilst your competitors are packing boxes.
Don Turner is the managing director of Spinning Clock, an SME creative events agency.

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