Stage ONE: Qualifying your visitors

Qualifying your prospects means finding out if your visitors really make the grade. Continue to ask open-ended questions to uncover the prospects’ level of interest in or need for your products or services, to inquire into their decision-making process (that is, their influence and /or authority), and to explore their time and budget parameters.

Remind your team to observe the 80/20 rule – listen to prospects for 80 percent of the time and talk for only 20 percent. Remember that you’re trying to uncover their needs so that you can better present your solutions.

To investigate their needs you must move on to more probing business-specific questions to create the fuel for your ultimate sale. Use questions such as:

“What do you like most about the product/service you presently use, and what would you like to change?”

“What are your top three criteria for buying?”

“Are you part of a buying team and, if so, what specific information are you seeking?”


Stage  TWO: Presenting or demonstrating your goods

Before the show, learn how everything works, and every day before the show’s opening, check that all is in working order. List all the strong features of your products or services; learn the benefits attached to those features.

Armed with the information you gain in the qualifying stage, you can now present solutions to prospects’ problems. Show existing customers new product lines or new applications they don’t know about. Never assume that prospects know everything.


Stage THREE: Demonstrating questions:

Always ask open-ended questions, and be prepared to anticipate their questions. During your demonstration, keep the prospect involved and interested by asking questions such as:

“What do you think of this product’s performance, and how does it compare with what you presently use?”

“What specific concerns do you have regarding our products or services or about doing business with us?”

Throughout your conversation, make notes on a lead card (a card you design to record pertinent information about your visitors for follow-up after the show). Answer all of your visitors’ questions, and then get a commitment or basically an okay that they are interested enough in your products or services for an after-show follow-up. (For example, have a sales rep call, or send a quotation.) Finalize the interaction by shaking hands, thanking the prospect for stopping by, and, if you have a gift, presenting it as a thank-you-for-stopping token. After you’ve finished with one prospect, make any additional notes on your lead card, and get ready for the next visitor.


Stage FOUR: Closing questions

Using well-prepared closing questions can help produce appropriate follow-up action. Questions such as:

“How does your company decide which vendors to work with?”

“What else would be important for you to know about our products/services?”

“What would you like see as the next step?”

Written by Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, working with exhibitors and meeting & event planners to improve their event success through coaching, consulting and training.