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The Foolproof Way to Close a Sale at a Trade Show

16 Apr 2019

In the last several weeks, we have stressed how essential trade shows are to selling products in the short run, all the while plumping your professional network with new contacts that might turn out to be lucrative in the long run. Trade shows are for selling - it’s what we’ve repeated time and time again, but that doesn’t necessarily explain how you can sell at a trade show. That’s a bit of a more complex question to answer, because there are a lot of components that go in a sale at a live event and the details depend on what industry you’re in.

However, we do have some essential information on the basics that build up to a successful sales strategy in person at a trade show.

Your Product Sells Itself

We have seen this error made frequently. Companies would go through all the trouble to secure a booth, and then they decide it’s too costly to ship their products over to exhibit and demonstrate. Instead, they rely on a presentation to move units. A cost-cutting technique that seems smart at the time, because it diminishes travel costs, but ultimately a bigger sink on potential revenue as there is no buyer who will commit to a buying proposal without seeing the product.

The product is the best advertisement. A buyer has the opportunity to engage with it by sight and touch and smell and taste (depending on what your product is), and this tactile experience makes any information or presentation you have to convey really stick in their memory. One of the best ways to get a foot in the door, when it comes to sales, is to bring samples as promotional materials. That way you put the buyer in the role of a user, and have a better time convincing them to purchase.

Have A Great Sales Pitch & Know How to Use It

If you’re new to sales pitches, we have put out an excellent guide on what they are, how to build a good sales pitch and what to do with them. Read that article first and then come back here as we build a little on top of the philosophy of sales pitching.

All caught up? Good. We can proceed. Now you know that a sales pitch is short and concise. The idea is to use as little time as possible to catch the imagination and the interest of a prospect buyer. You want to stay clear from telling long-winded story about the company and go into great detail about research metrics and product performance. That’s why websites and white papers exist. If a prospect is interested, they will do their research with due diligence.

One thing you do not want to be is aggressive. If you come off too strong, you’ll overwhelm your prospect that doesn’t lead to a sale. You will most likely be ignored at later stages and be certain that everybody talks. A rumor is easy to start and you need stellar PR.

Selling at trade shows is not unlike flirting. Good flirting that is. You make the other person feel special and wanted. This is all accomplished by being an active listener. It’s hard to do. Most think they are good listeners, but it’s a tough skill to develop, and so useful. Listening to prospects is the best way to gather information about the needs and problems of your target market, and a resource to understand how to make your product better.

Have a Worked-out Strategy to Handle Any Response

You’ve delivered your sales pitch. Now what? There are generally three outcomes that happen as you close your sales pitch, and they are to receive an acceptance, a rejection or an objection. We will instruct you on how ideally to respond to each one.

Acceptance: This is the ideal outcome. Your product exactly matches the needs of a prospect and there is interest in selling. Depending on the type of product and the stock you’ve brought, you’re able to sell either on site (the best possible outcome as it doesn’t give a chance for a buyer to think and dissuade himself) or take his information to negotiate a sale later. In the second kind, it’s very important to emphasize that you will follow up on this conversation later with a proposal. Creates an expectation. Then you need to follow through on that promise soon!

Rejection: This is the worst outcome. You will encounter a lot of rejection, and it’s important to recognize a hard no, when you see it. If you become even more aggressive in your sales pitch, you may earn an enemy, who won’t feel bad about writing negative reviews and telling horror stories about you to colleagues in their company and in the broader industry. You can’t sell to everyone, and that’s all right. Be polite and accept the rejection. Wish them a productive day and be pleasant throughout. You don’t want to drop all courtesy and politeness the moment you’re rejected as that will make you appear disingenuous, and nobody likes fake people in the industry.

Objection: This is a little bit trickier. Objections appear as rejection, but not as definitive. If you’re detecting a hint of hesitation in their turning you down, then you still might have a chance. Every experienced salesperson knows not to completely give up and hone skills to address concerns and turn this maybe into a resounding yes. In these situations, you need to isolate what keeps a prospect from buying and offer a satisfactory resolution. If it’s a price issue, you need to know whether you can offer some discounting that will still earn money. Adapt to the situation, but be careful not to impose yourself on the buyer. Again, aggression is a turn-off.

It takes time and practice to hone your instincts and understand how to best act at any given time and in any interaction, but following this guide will get you there a lot faster!


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