I'm constantly amazed how otherwise smart marketeers
become deaf, dumb and blind at a show. I remind clients -
You = Your Company - so when the company rep is
incompetent, it reflects on everything about the company.
Not really deaf, but not aware of the gist of the conversation.
Interaction at trade shows is quick, maybe with nods and
incomplete sentences. There's a tendency to let your ears
slide over important words.
Often you, as the staff person, are so intent on making the
pitch that the words just tumble out, not giving the visitor an
opportunity to break in with questions or comments. This is
awful! The visitor feels trapped because you've committed
the capital sin of Not Listening.
First, there should be no pitch, no obvious script that you
follow. The words must flow naturally, and you should be
speaking less than half of the time. It's your responsibility to
draw the questions and concerns from the visitor.
Second, visitors have questions. You have answers but you
also have literature, materials and quotes you can send for
follow-up . When you do all the talking, you aren't listening
and your company can't do an accurate and complete
There's a difference between not knowing something and
making up an answer. Not everyone knows everything about
a company, processes or an industry, so there are times
when you just don't know. What to do? Say so. Visitors
Say - "I don't know, but I'll find out. How should I get the
information to you?" Then follow-up to make sure the correct
information is sent.
Not literally blind, but oblivious blind. You're not paying
attention to the body language of visitors to see whether they
are tentative or genuinely curious about your firm.
More important, you're blind to your own body language and
the message it sends to everyone. Slouching shoulders,
back to the aisle, crossed arms, bored look, talking on the
cell phone or huddling with other staffers - all indicate you're
more interested in yourself than others. It's a poor message
to be sending for your company.
Conversely, the aggressive staffer is a visitor's worst
nightmare. No one wants to be pounced on, so the
"stop-'em-in-the-aisle" technique often backfires, and
people avoid your booth. Also, they'll go out of their
way to avoid you when they see you outside of the show
Trade shows require concentration, great listening skills
and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Make sure you're not
deaf, dumb or blind when representing your company.
Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - is president
of Trade Show Training, inc., a sales and marketing
consultancy based in Richmond-VA. TSTi is celebrating its