Exhibit Design Search / Trade Show and Event Tips / Fine-Tune Your Trade Show Knowledge /

Speaking with Prospective Customers

Speaking with Prospective Customers on the Show Floor

  • Your staff should appear comfortable and confident and be knowledgeable about your product or service
  • Listen attentively
  • When possible, take notes and write those notes on a formatted lead form
  • Follow the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated

You have designed the perfect trade show booth, everything is set up and ready to go, you have assembled your staff, and the first prospective customers are approaching your trade show exhibit. Now what? Your staff must be trained to be assertive, yet not overbearing when engaging the customer. Some managers even hire professional trade show trainers to prepare for the big day. Here are a few common sense tips to think about before you interact with a prospective client.

Your Staff

Your staff should appear comfortable and confident. Think of them as goodwill ambassadors for the company. It is a no-no to be seen chewing gum, eating or drinking, or talking on a cell phone. Your staff has to appear focused on the matter at hand, even during the occasional lull in activity.

Your staff should not congregate in groups while working in the booth since it may appear to customers as a social conversation. Position them throughout the exhibit. This will help put the customer at ease.

Interacting with the Prospective Customer

This tip is obvious but critical: Listen attentively. Never talk over a customer in your enthusiasm to recite your pitch. Nothing will turn off a customer faster than the feeling that they are not being heard. You have a product or service to sell but until you know what the customer needs, you don’t know how your product fits their specific requirements. Good salespeople know that successful selling is primarily about asking the right questions and listening.

When delivering your pitch, keep it brief, no more than thirty seconds to a minute and maintain eye-contact the entire time. As you converse, look for body language cues. If a person looks bored, don’t hold them hostage; consider handing them off to another staffer. On the other hand if the person is enthusiastic, you should guide them to the person in your booth assigned to answer their questions or take down their information. Too often, eager, positive customers are dismissed in order to talk to the next person in line.

When possible, take notes and write those notes on a preformatted lead form or on an electronic lead generation slip. Customers appreciate your desire to capture their information. Write your name on the form. Details matter and within a day or two, often within hours, you will forget about specific conversations. At a successful show, you may speak to several hundred prospects. No one can be expected to recall every conversation. After the show, these details make the difference between an efficient and productive follow up conversation with the prospective client and starting from scratch.

Don’t make assumptions based on their appearance. Unfortunately, we all do this and it never fails that a client dismissed as “not worth the time and trouble” becomes a major client for a competitor.

The Golden Rule

The most important piece of advice is to follow the Golden Rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. Engaging the customer can be a delicate business. Karen Paxton writing in Computer & Software News notes that “A trade show booth’s staff typically has only eight seconds to attract the customer’s attention.” Your staff must be vigilant in pursuit of each lead. Every person who browses a brochure or grabs a giveaway must be engaged, and treated as if they were the CEO of a company. After all they just might be!

Contact Us

For more information about trade show or event marketing, give us a call or Contact Us. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your next event.

Article Author:

Mel White, CEI

Add designs and photos to your personal gallery simply by clicking on the +My Gallery links

Then email your "My Gallery" to colleagues, friends, or your favorite exhibit designer. There's no better way to begin designing a display that reflects your exhibit marketing goals.

Note: My Gallery uses a temporary browser cookie to store your gallery. We recommend that you send your gallery to your email address if you need to retain it for longer than 30 days.

  • Suggested lead times may vary depending on current orders. Please check with Customer Service.
  • Production lead times are based on business days and DO NOT include any shipping days.
  • Production-ready artwork (when applicable) must accompany the order confirmation. Delays in uploading artwork may lead to expedited charges or shipping changes.
  • No order will be released to Production without a signed order confirmation.
  • Shipping is based on the availability of materials and graphics. Additional charges may apply if materials or graphics must be expedited.
  • Standard lead times do not apply to orders of multiple quantities.
Exhibit Weight varies depending on the packaging and the shipping method. Variables include but are not limited to:
  • Dimensional Weight vs. Actual Weight: Dimensional weight is defined as crate or case size. On most air shipments, the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight
  • Portable Cases vs. Wood Crates or Molded Tubs (where applicable): Exhibit designs that require one wood crate would require multiple portable cases. Selecting one vs. the other affects the total weight (dimensional or actual).
  • Freight Carrier: LTL carriers (Less than Truckload) quote freight based on space used. UPS, FedEx, and air freight carriers quote freight based on either the dimensional or the actual weight of the shipment.
  • Freight Service Level (number of days): Service levels range from Same Day Delivery to Two Week Delivery.
For more information about exhibit weights and freight options, please contact your local exhibit representative.
Electrical, Cord, and Wire Management varies depending on the display and each exhibitor's requirements. When ordering your trade show display, consider the following electrical/wire management issues and discuss your options with an exhibit professional:
  • Inline vs. Island Displays
  • Lead Retrieval Devices
  • Computer and Monitor Cables
  • Demo Equipment
  • Overhead Lighting
  • Grommets and Grommet Placement in Counters
  • Overhead vs. Floor Power Supply
  • Flooring and Electrical Wiring
  • Options for Hiding Cords and Cables
  • Flat vs. Round Electrical Cords
  • Multi-Plug Outlets and Extension Cords
By reviewing your wiring options BEFORE you order your display, you'll save TIME and MONEY and ensure your exhibit exceeds your expectations and your installation is trouble-free.