Tips and Trends

How to Disengage from Trade Show Attendees

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Meeting people face-to-face in your trade show booth continues to be a great way to convert prospects into leads and leads into customers. Even so, there’s a point at which it’s important to end even the greatest conversation with a trade show attendee — and move on to the next prospect. Your time on the trade show floor is valuable and there are more prospects waiting to be discovered.

The key is to use your time on the trade show floor to quickly establish a connection, reinforce your brand, and determine if someone is a qualified lead. If they are a qualified lead, your job is to build that relationship and open the door to a next step. When that attendee isn’t a prospect, your job is to suggest a follow up action — and quickly move on to the next prospect.

Here are six effective techniques for disengaging from six different types of attendee conversations on the show floor. All six techniques ensure that the attendee continues to feel good about your company after they leave your booth.

1. Hot-leads: “I’m glad we discovered a solution to your problem. We’ll be in touch first thing next week to discuss implementation.”

This method works for attendees who have an immediate application for your product. The phrase reinforces that your company can provide a solution to the attendee’s challenge and lets them know that working with them is a high priority for your company. Of course, it’s critical that you fulfill your promise with a call or email within the time frame you’ve promised.

2. Prospects with long term potential: “Thank you for telling me about your production issue. We’ll put together some customized solutions and send more information in the next couple of weeks.”

This method works for the booth visitor that has spent some time filling you in about their needs but doesn’t expect to implement anything for six months to a year. Disengaging with the promise to deliver specific, customized solutions emphasizes your commitment to the prospect. At the same time, it frees you up to talk with other attendees who may have more immediate needs.

3.The advice seeker: “I understand your issue. It’s complicated, so I think the best idea is to talk about it with fewer distractions. Do you have any time next week for a conversation over the phone?"

Some attendees view the trade show as an opportunity to pick experts’ brains and come home with free advice. Providing advice is a great way to establish your company as an expert and to launch a relationship that leads to future sales. But beware of going into this much detail on the trade show floor — especially with someone who has no immediate plans to buy. It’s too time intensive and you’ll miss out on other opportunities. The best way to handle this situation is to acknowledge the attendee’s need for a deeper discussion, propose a future meeting, and move on.

4. Colleagues: “I’m glad you stopped by to catch up. Can we meet up after the show floor closes?”

It’s inevitable that you’ll run into colleagues at a trade show. While it’s fun to visit for a little while, they aren’t the type of attendee your company needs you to spend time with — especially during show hours. Offering to meet outside of business hours is the best way to handle this conversation. They’re at the show to conduct business too, so they will understand.

5. Tire kickers: “Thank you for stopping by the booth today. Be sure to visit our touchscreen interactive and collect your giveaway before you leave.”

This method works for the tire kicker who has come to your exhibit for the freebie. There’s no need to get into a deep conversation with this attendee, but you don’t want to dismiss them completely. They may be a guest of a current customer or could become a hot prospect sometime in the future. Be sure to engage them with a booth activity that is self-directed so that you are free to spend your time engaging with other booth visitors.

6. Competitors: “Could I get your card to follow up via phone? Or could you stop by in a half hour or so?”

If you suspect your visitor is really a competitor, try to get them out of your booth as quickly as possible so you can move on to genuine prospects. Asking for a business card or badge scan may be enough to chase them away. If you are unsure that this is someone you should shoo out of the booth, pull a colleague into the conversation to confirm your suspicions. Some booth staffs work out a coded question or signal to alert each other when competitors are in the booth.

Trade shows are expensive propositions. Companies that don’t make the best use of their time in their booths are throwing money away. Don’t let a potential next-great customer walk away while you are stuck in a dead-end conversation. Use your trade show conversations to establish a personal connection, reinforce your brand, or suggest a follow up action.

How do you politely disengage with visitors at your company’s trade show exhibit?

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