These Two Types of Visitors Can Make Or Break Your Exhibit
In a high-stakes environment like a trade show, there's only a limited amount of time to make an impact on visitors to your exhibit. While every interaction will be important, not every conversation will be the same. To focus on ideal, serious customers, you'll have to deftly manage casual visitors to your exhibit as well.
Have a plan ready will facilitate handling the two main types of visitors you'll get to your exhibit.
These visitors are the folks who may actually have little interest in what you do and are unlikely to ever actually make a purchase. Spending time with this kind of attendee is hardly the key to unlocking the return on investment you're after for any particular event. If you're not careful, you may also wind up wasting precious time on the proverbial “tire kickers,” which can turn a great event into an unproductive one very quickly.
Here are some ideas to cut the conversation politely short. Try to guide the conversation as much as possible. Recommend an action they should take next, even if it's as simple as “I hope you will excuse me, I have to check in with my team.” Or, if you have walked the show floor, you can make a suggestion for a must-see booth “over in aisle 700…”
You should also have a closing phrase or action like, “This has been terrific, maybe we will run into each other again before the show's over,” as a way to segue out of the conversation without being rude about it.
If you've identified that the person you're talking to is in fact a serious customer—sometimes it's just the look in their eye—you'll want to take a decidedly different approach. Make this person feel like they're the only person at the event you care about. You may have to lean heavily on the rest of your team for this – don't shine a spotlight on this person at the expense of anyone else who may be just as serious.
Ask relevant questions, but always focus on what you can do for them. “How may I help you?” “Do you have questions you need answers for?” “May I show you a personal demonstration of (x) product right now?” Use natural calls-to-action to drive the interaction in the direction you want it to. Ultimately this means that you are making the best use of your time on the show floor and taking someone who may be on the fence and turning them into an on-site sale.
And while you are at it, remember to smile with your eyes as well as your mouth. Fake smiles involve the mouth more than the eyes: they are, in a sense only half the story. — Psychology Today “The Surprising Psychology of Smiling.”