Here's the scene. You're at the trade show, having a
discrete "Sales Call" conversation with a visitor. Things are
going well until he says something like...
* So who else uses this upgrade?
* You mentioned Big Foot, Inc. as a client. Who can I contact
* I'm not sure it's worth the extra money to us. Got any
examples of real savings?
* We're heavily invested in one of your competitors and I
can't see junking everything we've already done even
though we have problems with that system. You say the
transition would be smooth. How do I know?
YIKES. There you are with great sales resistance, which you
could overcome if you knew what to do. This fellow is asking
for you to give up client info ? and you don't know what your
client will say.
1. A trade show is a job interview for your COMPANY. Just as
you are prepared when you go on a job search ? past
history, skills, recommendations ? so, too, do people who
are looking to hire a firm want to be reassured about the
history, skills and recommendations related to your
2. Few people will directly ask you for a list of
recommendations for your company. The essence will be in
general conversation. You've got to be sharp and listen for
opportunities to bring up recommendations. You can't
fumble this ? you've got to be smooth.
3. Your personal recollections may be great but they are
personal. You may be a great salesperson but it's still you.
They want broader, and more distant, assurances.
4. Now you're thinking ? If I give him Sam's name at Big
Foot, what will Sam say? Even if you call Sam in advance,
you can't control the conversation. Or Sam, either by
preference or company policy, may not be able to say
1. Know in advance the clients you can talk about and those
you cannot. Understand there are reasons you can't ?
security, proprietary product or an agreement with client. No
one and no company wants to be gossip fodder. Have true
stories everyone agrees upon. Rehearse and do not
embellish. Do not make yourself the hero. Buyers write the
check to the company, not you.
2. Interview your clients before the show. You want current
recommendations. People change jobs and titles. Maybe
Sam was happy in the beginning but not now. Ask for
comments. Ask Sam if he can be contacted on a particular
topic only. Have this information available either at the show
or for follow-up.
3. If you have a sophisticated web site, you could add audio
or video clips. Make them short, impactful and change them
often. Your clients have egos. It makes small companies
look smart; big companies look smart.
4. You have to listen very carefully and get to the heart of the
resistance or query. Is it really dollars or is an assurance
needed that it will be a good value? Is ego in the way of a
sale? Is this a new-broom manager or is there a real need
to upgrade or change? Is this a disgruntled client?
Your clients want to see you do well, and most are happy to
Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - writes
about practical aspects of trade shows. As president of
Trade Show Training, inc,, now celebrating its 10th
year, she works with companies in a variety of
industries to improve their bottom line and marketing
opportunities at trade shows.
Julia is an expert in the psychology of the trade show
environment and uses this expertise in sales training
and management seminars.
Information and free newsletter sign up
Contact Julia at 804-355-7800 or