Research shows we have around 7 seconds to make a good first impression – and at a trade show, when you’re surrounded by other companies all vying for the customer’s attention, it’s likely you have even less time.
Even the most seasoned of sales reps can find trade shows and exhibitions daunting – and that was pre-Covid. Now the stakes are even higher – secure new business with reduced venue capacity, attract people’s attention without getting too close, build a personal connection while keeping your distance.
It’s a minefield – so here are some tips to help you catch the customer’s eye, make a positive impression and crucially, increase engagement at your trade stand this fall.
1. Make your space vibrant
As you’re competing with many other professional stands, you’re going to have to try hard to stand out. Ensure you have consistent, cohesive and eye-catching branding that is visible across your entire stand. Make sure people can tell who you are from a mile off. Using bold design, eye-catching imagery and impactful video will help capture attention and draw people in like a magnet.
2. Be prepared
It might sound obvious that you should be prepared to deal with visitors to your trade stand, but you’d be surprised just how many sales teams get caught on the hop! If people are waiting for you to set up your computer, find a document or track down a leaflet they’re very quickly going to become bored, disengaged or unimpressed. Make sure you have everything in one place, that you have all the information you need and that you’re prepared for any question. Every second counts. Don’t break the spell by going on a hunt for statistics, have them ready and waiting. Make sure you look like the expert you are.
3. Master your nerves
Just because you work in sales, it doesn’t mean you never get nervous. Exhibitions can be pretty nerve-wracking, but if you want to make a good impression, it’s vital you don’t let these nerves show. Make sure you’re well prepared to increase your confidence, and arrive before the show opens so you can get your bearings before customers start coming in. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure – if it helps, set manageable goals such as collecting details from 25 or 50 prospects, securing one meeting, or swapping details with two or three key contacts. Having bite-size targets can help you feel less overwhelmed.
4. Immerse people
Engaging with customers at trade events is going to be different after Covid. You need ways to connect that aren’t over-familiar and don’t invade people’s personal space. Creating an immersive experience at your trade stand can help you to engage on a deeper, more memorable level. Make sure all your displays and collateral are eye-catching, to the point and of a high quality. If your video is dull, it won’t be memorable or relevant. If your leaflet is wordy or centred around you rather than them, people won’t feel it solves their challenges and if your digital collateral isn’t sleek and innovative, it’s forgettable. This is your chance to create a great impression, wow visitors and position yourself as an industry leader.
5. Comfort is king
You can engage with your customers on the most fundamental of levels by simply remembering that they are human beings, and making your trade stand a place they feel comfortable hanging out – literally! If you’ve got the space for a couple of comfy seats, people will really welcome the opportunity to take a load off and if you’re so inclined, you might even offer some refreshments. A Nespresso machine or cold drinks dispenser and even a cookie or cupcake can do wonders to revive flagging trade show attendees. They’re sure to remember you for it, plus you’ll get the chance to chat while they’re refueling.