10 Trade Show Etiquette Tips

Having attended several trade shows recently, I’ve noticed some bad manners on part of salespeople that I would like to address.

The following is a list of 10 etiquette tips –

1). Don’t sit or stand behind your tabletop display. Instead, stand next to it. This will ensure more openness and hopefully more attendees coming to your display area. Sitting or standing behind your tabletop creates an artificial defensive barrier between you and the attendees you are trying to attract. By standing next to your table, you are signaling that you are interested in speaking with them.

bad manners at trade shows2). Don’t sit when the trade show is busy. Stand. Smile. Make good eye contact. Show that you are ready to talk, answer questions or do a short presentation.

3). Don’t use your cell phone or laptop when the trade show is busy. Most people are polite. If they see you busy texting or working on your laptop, they are less likely to visit you. You could end up losing a sale.

4). Don’t eat when the trade show is busy – even if other attendees are eating breakfast, lunch or other food in the trade show. If attendees see that you are eating, again, being polite, they may not stop by and speak with you. Wait until the crowd dies down before grabbing something to eat. (It’s always a good idea to keep snacks and bottled water in your exhibit area in case you have low blood sugar).

5). If you are speaking with another vendor and see an attendee walking towards his booth, immediately step away. The vendor isn’t paying good money to speak to other vendors. Like you, he’s there to make contacts, find prospects, and hopefully get some good sales down the road.

6). Arrive early to set up your booth. Nothing screams amateur more than arriving late to set up your booth area. Also, don’t break down until closing time. You will be surprised how many attendees will wait until the last minute to visit a booth or place an order. This is especially true at large trade shows where there is a lot to see and so little time to see it all.

don't scan and spam7). Don’t scan and spam. One of the biggest mistakes vendors make is scanning everyone who walks by their booth. This is a major waste of time. Sure, you may think you have a lot of “sales leads” when you return to the office. But in reality, most of those leads are probably duds because they were never really qualified. So now you’re going to spend weeks or months making phone calls to people who either aren’t interested in your services or products or don’t even remember meeting you at the trade show. And spamming? Please! Unless you have taken the time to speak with the prospect at the show, your chances of him responding to your emails are almost nil.

8). Index cards. OK, some trade shows don’t give you the ability to scan badges. And let’s face it, not all attendees carry their business cards or don’t have any left because they handed them all out. Now what? Have index cards available for attendees to write down their contact information. There, wasn’t that easy?

9). Have enough business cards. Don’t always depend on your trade show/conference department to pack your business cards for you. Bring your own cards. Because my trade show/conference department didn’t pack enough cards, I almost ran out before the end of a conference that I attended a couple of years ago. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

10). Smile. Smiling won’t crack your face. So smile, or you could lose some sales. Sure, we’ve all been to lousy trade shows. You know the ones where there is little traffic or the attendees are only interested in stealing your swag. Like a good trooper, just smile through it and do the best you can. Who knows – you might still get a couple of good orders from it.

Remember, the purpose of working at a trade show is to make sales. Don’t let bad manners prevent you from achieving your goal.

Are you a Sales Fool?

Since today is April Fool’s Day, I thought I would write about sales fools.

What is a sales fool?

A sales fool is someone who –

April Fool or sales fool1). Creates a lot of busywork that does not yield a lot of sales or orders. You know the type – makes a lot of phone calls and leaves voicemail messages without first qualifying the lead or prospect. “Sales is just a numbers game.”

2). Is a clock watcher and feels that selling is strictly a 9-to-5 job. He’s the fool that doesn’t occasionally come to work early to call European clients or stays late to contact prospects in Australia or New Zealand. “I’m not a morning or night person.”

3). Feels that he doesn’t have to fill his pipeline because the Marketing Department will give him all the leads he needs to contact. To the sales fool, prospecting is a historical term from the California or the Alaska Gold Rush days. “Who wants to get their hand’s dirty prospecting.”

4). Treats the gatekeeper like a piece of trash and then wonders why he’s not able to reach the decision-maker. “Bitch, why can’t she just let me speak to her boss!”

5). Attends trade shows but pretends the events are more like extended vacations. He comes to the booth four hours late hungover from going to strip clubs the night before. “Sorry, Mr. Attendee, I’m sick. Can you come back later?”

6). Feels that he doesn’t need to learn his craft by reading books, attending seminars or watching webinars. Instead, he believes that constantly learning about sales is for “sissies” and he knows everything there is to know about selling. “I haven’t read a book since I graduated from college.”

7). Scans and spams every attendee that comes to his trade show booth without qualifying them, and then wonders why his leads aren’t returning his phone calls. “I thought they all wanted to speak with me.”

8). Steals leads and prospects from his co-workers and lies when he’s caught and confronted by his actions. “I didn’t know the leads were in your territory, honest!”

9). Doesn’t help his absent or unavailable co-workers when customers call. Instead, he treats other people’s clients like dirt or only gives them minimal attention which only undercuts his colleagues. “I have too much on my plate to help your clients.”

10). Doesn’t take the time to find the right decision-maker and ends up wasting two months talking to the intern. “Well, he sounded like a heavy hitter to me.”

11). Doesn’t ask for the order. Instead, he sits back and waits for the prospect to magically pick up the phone and place the order with him. “He’s going to call any day now, I just know it.”

12). Spends weeks calling the same phone number with no answer or voice mail intro, and doesn’t take one minute to Google the contact or company to find the correct phone call to dial. “The Marketing Department told me that this was a good phone number to call.”

13). Doesn’t take the time to constantly learn about his company’s products and services, or stay up-to-date on what’s going on in his industry. He feels that he knows “everything” until one of his competitors bites him in the ass by stealing one of his largest customers. “I had no idea my customer was speaking to my competitor.”

14). Goes on job interviews without researching his potential employer. He asks stupid questions like “what does your company do?” And then he wonders why he doesn’t receive a job offer. “I should have heard back from them by now.”

are you a sales fools15). Uses the sales meetings to harp and complain about issues that would better be addressed at another time and place. To the sales fool, he likes to waste the time of his colleagues during meetings, rather than just stick to the agenda and get down to business. “I know this isn’t on the agenda, but….”

16). Only makes one or two attempts at reaching a lead or prospect, and then gives up. He wonders why he’s not getting a lot of orders. “I guess if I don’t hear back from them, they must not be interested.”

17). Is a master of playing computer Solitaire or Chess because he’s not making sales calls or doing his job. “Maybe I should switch careers and become a professional Chess player and hustle people at the park.”

18). Doesn’t use LinkedIn to add more professional connections. “I have all the contacts I need.”

19). Sends out long and boring emails to prospects and wonders why he’s not receiving any replies. “I spend hours writing 8 paragraph long emails, but no one ever responds.”

20). Doesn’t think that selling is a real profession and he’s only waiting for something “better” to come along. “Yessiree Bob, my ship is going to come in any day now, just watch, any day.”

The lesson here? Don’t be a sales fool. Because if you’re a sales fool, you’re only kidding yourself into thinking that you will have a long sales career.

For the sales fool, every day is April Fool’s Day!

Second photo credit: Essential Advice for Christian Persecution via photopin (license)