As sales professionals, we attend trade shows and conferences to build brand recognition, generate new leads, see what’s happening in our industry, and (ultimately) sell our products. A strong trade show floor strategy increases our chance of success. We originally developed a list for our own staff, and we would like to share it with you to help you leverage these trade show best practices for your next event.

1. Come Early and Be Ready to Roll

Nothing worse than fiddling with your furniture, monitor or demo as the first booth visitors arrive. Get to the show early, especially on the first day, and be ready to shine. It’s better to have everything ready early so you can enjoy a break before the onslaught of traffic.

2. Wear Comfortable Shoes

You’re on your feet a great deal. Make sure your feet are happy.

3. Be Prepared

Have a few pens to write on business cards. Bring (and drink) water bottles. Bring some aspirin too.

4. Stand Up and Be Ready

Many exhibitor staff at tradeshows sit down behind a table. Don’t – stand out front. We pay thousands of dollars to be at a conference for very short periods of time. You can rest later. Body language is also important when you’re in the booth. If you want people to visit, be approachable and friendly. If you stand back and wait for attendees to engage, you might be waiting a long time. Standing with your arms crossed and scowling is not going to do the trick. Make good small talk that includes a custom greeting full of excitement, personal to you.

5. Know the Show

Know the show schedule and floorplan. Helping someone get somewhere (lunch, a booth, the restroom, the conference) is a good thing – it makes a good impression.

6. First Impressions are Everything

No, really. Studies show that your first impression has a high correlation with the actual long-term status of your relationships. Treat the booth as if it’s a model home – clean, straightened, polished. Be hospitable, giving people a warm welcome. There’s no time to spare on the initial presentation either.

7. Listen First

What’s the best way to generate interest? Show interest in others first. Don’t sell anything unless they’re interested in what you do. That said, the way you gain interest is by showing interest in your visitors.

8. Have a Solid Elevator Pitch

Ask yourself: What is the most powerful thing we can say in 30 seconds? Trade shows are fast-paced. In many cases, your elevator pitch is your full pitch — it has to be so great that if that’s all they get, they might remember it.

9. Target Specific People

Focus on quality. Not every person attending the conference is equally useful for your business. Know who you want to invest time with by title and function (sales managers, CEOs, CTOs, etc.).

10. Point Out Our Coolest Feature

Cool features grab people’s attention. When you walk through a sales trade show with 200 different booths, every one of them promises to help you sell more or save money, don’t they? But what do you go home that night and tell your significant other about? It’s the booth with the coolest features. Cool features grab attention.

11. Treat Appointments Like Appointments

If things get busy, try to schedule specific appointments. Use meeting rooms and other locations when people can’t get into the exhibit area.

12. Be Goal Driven

Establish a clear call to action. Do you want visitors to buy immediately? Do you want to schedule a follow-up presentation?

13. Know Answers to Key Questions

Track all of the questions that you get asked at the booth and summarize the answers to them for everyone on your team.

14. Simplify Business Cards

Learn the old business card pocket trick: keep your own business cards in your right pocket. Hand them to people and ask for their business card. Qualify the lead and write notes on their card. Then put their card in your left pocket. Oh, you always need a pen.

15. Keep Your Hands Clean

It’s so easy to get sick at a trade show. Wash your hands often, and use hand sanitizer frequently. Not only does your body run down during the show, visitors travel from all over, bringing all kinds of unknown ‘science projects’.

16. Do a Post-Mortem

At the end of each day, before you jet off to party, sit down, take a breath and talk about what went right, what went wrong and what you need to do better next day/time.

17. Do NOT Overdo It at Night

It’s SO easy to drink too much in the evening. You don’t want to spend your second day with a massive hangover. It really sucks having to be on the show floor being queasy with a headache. And your visitors will not be impressed, even with your tales of a great night.

18. Don’t Break the Booth Down Early

You’re tired, it’s been a long show, and you’re ready to either get home or go have a post-even drink. But prospects are still walking around, and it looks bad if you’re breaking down the booth early. You never know when a really big prospect will walk by at the last minute.

Ready to rock it now? We hope these ideas help you…

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