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4 Things You Should Never Do at a Tradeshow

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TradeshowWorking a tradeshow is a waste of time if you’re not doing it right.

When I attended this year’s Dreamforce as a Salesforce.com blogger, I was reminded of just how great it is to be surrounded by other salespeople—to share best practices, ideas, and even connections. During the tradeshow, I was also reminded of what sets great salespeople apart from mediocre ones.

Working a tradeshow is tough. I know. I’ve done it. However, isn’t your goal to connect with people, engage them in conversation, identify key prospects, and leave with follow-up actions?

Why, then, do so many tradeshow attendees treat people who visit their booths like a nuisance—just more people they have to talk to? When you don’t treat every prospect you meet at tradeshows like potential customers, you’re wasting your time and theirs.

Here are four things you should NEVER do at a tradeshow:

Forget to Use My Name

I’m a real person, so treat me like one. Extend your hand in a greeting, ask my name, and tell me yours. Smile and act as if you’re actually interested in me—even though I’m the umpteenth person to whom you’ve spoken. After all, I might just be your next big customer, but you’ll never know unless you make an effort to get to know me.

Give Me a Pitch

When I ask what you do, I don’t want to hear your party line. You tell me what your product does and how great it is. You go on and on about its features. But not once do you ask about me or the needs of my business. Not once do you engage me in conversation. Even when I point to a quote on your wall about how your product helped one company increase (whatever) by more than 50 percent, and I ask how you did that, you reply with your corporate speak—your pitch. You don’t even acknowledge my question.

The thing is, I don’t care one bit about what your product does unless you can tell me how it will benefit my business. And you can’t tell me that unless you ask me about me.

Try to Scan My Badge

Please don’t have your booth bunnies lined up with devices ready to scan my badge. I won’t let anyone scan my badge. Why? Because you’ll use that information to pester me with lengthy, automated emails thanking me for visiting your booth (which I didn’t) and inviting me to download a whitepaper or attend an event you’re sponsoring. And I’ll receive a few cold calls in between. No thanks.

Ignore Me

This one should probably go without saying, but don’t zone out and ignore me. There’s nothing more off-putting than walking up to a booth and finding people so busy looking down at their cell phones that they have no idea I’m even there. Yes, I’m there, and so are your future customers. So where are you?

If tradeshows are such a chore for you, then you shouldn’t be there. Act like you mean it. Tired? I don’t care. Feet hurt? Bring comfy shoes. Hung over? Too bad for you. Think twice about the reason your company spent thousands of dollars to have a presence at a tradeshow. It’s your job to respect that investment and to respect the people visiting your booth.

For more on how to leverage the personal connection for sales success, get your copy of my new book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal—now available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. Or get the digital version for your Kindle or Nook.

Comment Here

What are some best (and worst) practices you’ve witnessed at tradeshows?

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4 Responses to 4 Things You Should Never Do at a Tradeshow

  1. Michael Ng says:

    Many sales people in tradeshows falls in the second category – ‘GIVE ME A PITCH’. They talk too much and let no room for potential prospect to ask buying questions. Like us humans, we have two ears and a mouth, it is important to ask questions that can get details of the customer what the customer is looking at. Listening and then relating your product and services only if it can solve their problem. I believe in any tradeshows it is not about hunting but farming. It is also a platform to build relationship so that people will remember you after the tradeshow.

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