Trade Show Talk: How to Convert Prospects Into Leads

April 4, 2015

Ben Camerota

Ben Camerota is the President of MVP Visuals, suppliers of custom branded displays for trade shows, retail promotion and corporate events

With today’s modern technology, we communicate in so many different ways – text, email, chat, tweets, and the list goes on. Even in the marketing world, a huge portion of our interactions are through these newer, more remote channels. Yet every year, thousands of people still choose face-to-face marketing and interaction, by visiting or exhibiting at trade shows.

In-person communication at an event or trade show can be much more valuable than an email campaign or social media interaction – assuming you get that communication right. You typically only get one chance to help an event-goer understand what your business does and how it can help them do what they do better.

The key to converting a valuable trade show lead is speaking to the specific needs of their role, whether you’re talking to the CEO of a huge company or the administrator of a startup. It’s likely that your business offers many different advantages to those who buy in, not just one or two benefits – so why are your booth’s salespeople just sticking to one or two talking points? If you want to improve the communication you have with leads at your next trade show, follow these steps:

Step 1: Prepare Your Angles

Start out by making a list of the benefits your company offers to customers who purchase your product or services: things like up-front cost savings, free technical assistance, free service checks, greater efficiency, higher quality materials, more experienced staff to help, ease of use, etc. Think about the feedback you get from your happy customers and repeat buyers – why do they prefer you to the competition? Be specific and write down key examples.

Step 2: Plan for Personas

Often the only information you have to go on when someone approaches your booth is their name, position and company. Well in advance of your show, create profiles of the types of leads you’ll talk to: CEOs, CFOs, buyers, team leaders, administrators, even entry-level staff and clerks. Connect these profiles to your list of benefits from Step 1, identifying the perks that are most likely to appeal to each persona. For example, a team manager might be most concerned with how your product could improve efficiency within his team, whereas a CFO is wondering if your service could help with budget planning for next year.

Step 3: Train Your Booth Staff

These folks are the smiling face of your brand at every event, and they could be your best mouthpiece with the right training. Organize training before your event, even for experienced staff, and make sure everyone is well versed in the list of benefits to discuss, and the profiles that can help them decide which benefits to discuss with which visitors.

Step 4: Listen and Adjust

Training isn’t just about memorizing personas. Teaching your staff to listen first is vital since many leads will happily share their pain points, needs and concerns upfront – making it much easier to speak to the solutions you can offer them! Make sure your staff understand that their pitch (no matter how well-rehearsed) comes second to asking questions and listening carefully, and should be tailored on the spot to address the needs of that lead. 

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