Trade Show Sales Tips: 5 Habits Leading to Lucrative Events

Trade shows are back, but your people skills may be a little rusty. If you’re eager to get back on the show floor, it's best to take the t...
Natalie Kienzle
November 23, 2022
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For trade show sales tips to work, a group effort is needed. It’s not just a person or booth, or even some really sweet giveaway that will clinch the deal – it’s all of those things working together in a purposeful and driven manner. 

Improved sales and marketing at a trade show are possible through the use of five functional habits at events. 

  1. Prepare to Engage
  2. Design Private Spaces
  3. Know Your Audience
  4. Maintain Strong Records
  5. Incentivize Your Products

Putting these tips into practice can help your sales representatives make the most of every trade show event.  

See how you can turn potential customers into real ones at your next business event through solid calls to action that make people want to buy your product. 

Trade Show Sales Tips To Put in Practice Now

The biggest trade shows in the world can have thousands of attendees and hundreds of vendors. Making the decision to showcase products and sell at a trade show is daunting. There, more so than any other venue, has competitors going head to head in real-time. 

To run a successful trade show booth, multiple factors need careful attention. 

Every booth at an event is going to go through similar challenges. Closing more deals than the competition require further development of useful habits. 

We’re going to review five unique tips and habits to make your next trade show event worthwhile. 

  1. Prepare to engage
  2. Design private spaces
  3. Know your audience
  4. Maintain strong records
  5. Incentivize your products

Regardless of what your product is or where an event is taking place, implementing these tips regularly can help you engage with trade show attendees on a meaningful and profitable level.   

trade show sales tips showing engagement between people with a smile and a handshake

1. Prepare to Engage

Any good sales pitch begins with engaging conversation. A great sales pitch starts with a compelling story and allows people to make a contribution to the outcome

There are a number of ways to introduce a product while getting people talking at the same time. 

  • Greet people with direct, but open-ended questions that encourage responses and get them to discuss their needs
  • Follow the 80/20 rule – only 20% of your engagement should be spent talking while the other 80% is active listening
  • Ensure a good attitude is present by giving everyone on the sales team a role to play and a collective goal 

If people are coming up to a booth only to be ignored, sales will remain stagnant. A simple greeting like ‘hello, how are you’ isn’t going to cut it when everyone around you says the same thing; it will be an excuse for someone to say ‘fine’ and keep right on walking. 

After over two years of remote meetings and virtual tours, people are eager to get back to trade shows. They crave meaningful and face-to-face interactions. With the right attitude and approach, a sales team can provide that and get the sale.   

For more in-depth information, check out our article on trade show lead generation

2. Design Private Spaces

Once people are listening and engaged, it’s time to actually start the sales part of the conversation. It can be hard to get into fine details out in the open, however; there are constant distractions from people walking by and conversation at nearby booths. 

Designing a private space within your booth where you can guide interested attendees for further conversation can minimize distractions. How private a space you can design depends on how much floor space you have to work with. 

Based on your circumstances, consider some of the following options:

  • Small tables set up within the booth space where a sales rep and attendee are away from the main flow of people
  • Counter-height stools that invite people to sit and talk
  • Furniture and partition arrangements that block off views from specific angles

If you really don’t have the space for such a setup, consider arranging for a meeting room at the convention center. To encourage people to set aside time, you can set up QR codes they can scan for reminder texts that let them know when such meetings are taking place. 

Check out these seven epic tactics for a trade booth design that can elevate your display to the next level

3. Know Your Audience

Many trade shows are open to the general public. This can sometimes make it difficult for sales teams to determine if the people approaching their booth are serious customers. Depending on the products or services offered, building an ideal customer profile before an event is helpful

Taking the time to look at recent statistics will reveal how important it is to create these profiles. 

Trade Show Attendance Statistics

Attendee DetailsAudience Percentage
Interested in finding new brands92%
Planning on making one or more purchases49%
Have buying power/represent executive and upper management82%
Aren’t current customers of companies displayed64%
Source: QualityLogoProducts

A sales team looking at these statistics needs to come up with a plan for weeding through interested individuals. Don’t be rude or ignore those that don’t match up, but carefully manage the time and attention given to them.  

If the goal is to secure sales at the event itself, long conversations should only happen with qualified prospects. A few specific questions during the initial engagement can reveal whether an individual is an actual decision maker or not. 

4. Maintain Strong Records

Someone who isn’t prepared to buy at the moment may still be persuaded to buy after a trade show has finished. After the trade show floor closes, the next phase of the sales plan kicks in. Anyone who approached your booth and provided contact information should be followed up with

Depending on what kind of contact information was collected, follow-up communication can consist of:

  • Personalized emails
  • Handwritten letters
  • Personalized postcards
  • Phone calls
  • Personal visits (if possible)

Trade show marketing is something that takes place before, during, and after an event. Keep track of how you’re reaching out to people and how people react to your display after a show. 

Track information such as social media joins and signups that occur right after an event. It provides yet another metric for how impactful a presentation or sales pitch was for attendees. 

View of a crowded trade show floor from high angle

5. Incentivize Your Products

Even if you have the most engaging and attentive sales team on the floor, they still need people to come up to them. The street vendor approach is effective but exhausting. You can make it a little easier on the team by providing the kind of incentives that make attendees take the first step instead. 

Common booth attractions include:

  • Promotional items in the form of fun, quality swag giveaways
  • Discounts or limited-time deals for those purchasing at the moment
  • Actual product giveaways through event games like scavenger hunts or prize wheels
  • Providing small snacks or bottles of water

Make product incentives clear and simple. Keep offers within set parameters to avoid confusion and anger over small print details. Offers and incentives should align with your brand values. 

For example, if the company is touting itself as eco-friendly but is handing out folders with various sheets of printed information, the wrong message might come across. It may be preferable to display a QR code that links to the information or even provide a thumb drive with digital files pre-loaded. 

The same goes for selling prices. A competitor may be priced lower, but may not be able to offer the same kinds of support services or individualized deals. Incentivize the things about your product and company that make it stand out from the competition. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Trade Show Sales Pitch

Despite the wide popularity of trade shows, many companies still doubt how effective they are.  In tough economic times, strong return on investments are needed

On top of promoting good practices, it’s important to avoid bad ones. Bad habits and poorly thought-out displays do considerable harm to a company’s long-term image and budget. 

Common mistakes to be avoided include:

  • Not training staff before the event
  • Poorly designed graphics and banners
  • Giveaways that don’t match the company
  • Not having specific goals before events
  • Booths that have loose trash or unorganized materials
  • Sales reps that are always sitting down or talking to each other
  • A lack of pre-show marketing
  • Having too many or too few supplies
  • Random collections of business cards for leads (fish bowls)
  • Failing to collect contact information for follow-ups

Following the five trade show sales tips we already reviewed goes a long way in avoiding bad habits. If you’re new to trade shows or have a new team you aren’t familiar with, it doesn’t hurt to review a list of dos and don’ts. 

Finding a winning rhythm for shows takes time. If you feel that your booth is lacking in something, outsourcing could be the right solution. 

Don’t have a graphics designer on staff that can do the job? There are entire businesses dedicated to it. Struggling with how you’re going to ship and care for everything from show to show? Hire a logistics company with experience in trade show shipping services. 

You can have a successful trade show experience with the right attitude and the right partners by your side. 

Practice Success With USA Trade Show Shipping

Big and small events are the first step of a longer sales cycle. Let USA Trade Show Shipping help you take that first step. 

We’ve shipped displays and equipment for major distributors to trade shows all across the country. Our experienced crews can load up and set up displays to showcase your products in their best light. 

Ask how we can help with:

  • Ground and Air Shipping
  • Storage and Detention
  • Debris Removal
  • And More!

Call us today at (866) 415-8986 to speak with our expert staff. Shopping around for prices and services? Get a quote for your needs online today. 

USA Trade Show Shipping is ready to help you spread product awareness far and wide. Contact us today

Need help shipping your trade show booth and materials? Fill out a short form or give us a call and one of our trade show specialists will answer your questions.

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