3 Tips to Make the Most of a Trade Fair

Nicolas Caron

Published : 19 June 2017
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Trade fairs are great opportunities to do business, sell products and generate leads. Every year, hundreds of trade fairs take place throughout the world with some just meant to be large, universal events while others are more specific to a particular market.

Regardless, participation in these events should not be improvised. Simply booking a spot is not enough. Logistics, invites, demos, marketing campaigns, and contact follow-up are all key factors for success.  But marketing aside, let’s not forget that preparing your sales team is also an important step.

If you’ve ever strolled the aisles of any trade fair, you’ll know that this principle is usually far from being properly implemented in the field.

Even if you have the best spot, the best offer and the best marketing tools, if your sellers are not well-prepared, you will fail to make your trade fair a success.

Here are three tips for managers who want their team to be on top of their game in order to make the most of a trade fair.

Before the fair: Train and encourage your team

Key messages for encouraging your team

A trade fair is an event in the true sense of the term. It is a key moment in the business year. This is something you should insist upon and educate your teams about. Without overplaying the boss card, it still seems appropriate to highlight that it is a big investment whose profitability will depend on the energy and motivation of the sales force. Obviously, the other idea will be to highlight the tremendous opportunity that the fair represents in terms of market research.

If you need inspiration here is a list of ideas which you can use to work on your motivational speech.

  • Mention statistics from previous editions. The organizers will be delighted to provide you with all the information you need to describe the business opportunities you can hope for. Of course, if you are preparing a fair you already attended in the past, results from the last edition will help you set the bar for this new participation.
  • Clarify the objectives. Why are you taking part in this trade fair?
  • To generate leads?
  • To receive customers?
  • To increase your notoriety?
  • To take orders?
  • To meet key stakeholders in your ecosystem?

The preparation of your sellers will be different depending on the goal you set. So you might as well specify it and share it beforehand with the whole team.

  • Present offers specific to the trade fair. This is not an obligation, but having special offers is a plus. It helps you surf on the energy generated by the event. This is especially important when your goal is to sell and take orders from your booth. Though when your goal is more centered around generating leads it is still a good idea to come up with something specific. Indeed, to generate a lot of leads you need to have a lot of interactions with visitors. The more “packaged” your speech, the more your sales reps will be able to quickly convince visitors to stop for an in-depth meeting.
  • Show incentives. This is not an absolute rule, but it may be important for some industries. You need to specify the rules of commissioning specific to the fair, in keeping with your priority goals.
  • Specify the rules of the game.
  • Restate meeting hours. Specify them upstream to make sure that everyone attends briefing sessions.
  • Remember that everyone must be on top form. No complaints office about the working pace. Running a booth without getting tired is just not possible. Going to a trade fair means being at 200% all day long and repeating the same pitch over and over in spite of the noise. If necessary, select only positive and motivated sellers to go with you. Here, like elsewhere, remember the – harsh but fair – principle: don’t trouble the best with the mediocre.
  • Validate the dress code. Maintaining some coherence across sellers and having them wear a similar outfit is a plus.
  • Clarify the organization rules to ensure a permanent presence at the booth.
  • Clarify expected attitudes. Observing a trade fair as a visitor, you’ll quickly spot what you would not like to see, so be sure to make it clear beforehand.
  • Anticipate follow-up.
  • If your salespeople do not have the time to follow up on their leads after the fair, there is no point in doing it. Follow-up is key. So make sure that your sellers arrange time periods for chasing up customers in the days and weeks that follow. 

Train your team

After mobilizing your team members, you should spend some time training them. Selling or generating leads at a trade fair is an exercise in style. Whether we’re talking about approaching visitors, saying goodbye, or simply adjusting your pitch, there are many details that can make the difference between a good or a bad day at the fair.

It is important to review all these fundamentals by adapting them to you spearhead offer. Everyone must be able to present the special offer of the moment. It is also useful to have a pitch ready for problematic situations: visitors who won’t tell you the name of their company, leech-like visitors who won’t stop talking, someone coming to you with the brochure of a competitor, etc. There are a lot of situations that need to be planned for.

If you want to go further in terms of methods, the Halifax Online Academy includes a series of specific modules for selling at a trade fair. These modules can be used autonomously or with the support of our consultants.

During the fair

Leading your team