10 things that make your business succeed at trade fairs

By booking to take part in a fair, many companies lay the foundation for a promising sales and marketing measure. So that their participation in the fair is a real success, exhibitors should pay attention to the following 10 things.

1) Invite your customers

Trade fair organizers invest a lot in professional visitor marketing. However, the impact of these measures can be significantly increased. How? By organising an invitation campaign with entry vouchers, exhibitors can ensure that their own customers are informed about it in any event. They can also pique their customers’ curiosity regarding the product presentation and benefit from the opportunity to conduct face-to-face discussions and negotiations at the fair.

2) Train your staff

Opulent trade fair stands and the most fantastic innovative products count for little if the staff at the stand aren’t prepared to handle direct enquiries. Trade fair training sessions on communication techniques and language skills are essential. English skills are a must at international trade fairs. Moreover, at the very least, exhibitors should also make sure that all employees know the most important data relating to their own products. If there is only one single product expert on site, an information backlog will rapidly build up if he or she has to answer the questions of several interested parties all at the same time.

3) Plan your follow-up activities in advance

By preparing contact sheets that allow discussions to be quickly categorised, follow-up activities can be initiated straight after the fair has ended. On the basis of these categories, follow-up activities should be prioritised and scheduled in advance. Qualified contacts can thus be processed quickly, follow-up appointments agreed and leads converted into customers.

4) Book everything in good time

Early-bird discounts are often not only available when booking your stand, but can also be taken advantage of when making your travel and accommodation arrangements. Furthermore, the quotas for additional placements or activities relating to your trade fair participation are sometimes limited, so exhibitors should make sure they put in their requests at an early stage. Above all, it is vital to keep important deadlines in mind.

5) Plan enough staff

The number of staff an exhibitor has at the booth is determined by the number of appointments that has been agreed on in advance and how many new prospects are expected. If (potential) customers come to the stand and there is no-one they can talk to, they may just wander off again. In an emergency, booking additional service personnel can help to remedy this situation. Such staff can welcome visitors to the stand and can bridge any awkward waiting times with a cup of coffee, a brief overview of the new products and some small talk.

6) Don’t lose yourself in chats

In contrast to the service staff, exhibitors should be careful to spend their talk times not merely on small talk but to use them to good effect. As soon as an appointment has been made with the customer, the local sales staff should set a clear target for the talk. If you lose sight of this goal during the course of the interaction at the fair, you might need to arrange a follow-up appointment or a more detailed phone call for after the fair.

7) Be punctual

Punctuality is an act of politeness. This not only applies to making sure that you turn up to your appointments on time – even if the trade fair party went on for a bit longer than it should have done the night before or the way from the hotel to the exhibition centre is a little further away than you would like it to be, the booth should be staffed in the mornings. If you are in place at least half an hour before the visitors are let in, then you know you’ll be playing it safe.

8) Listen

Particularly when it comes to new contacts at the fair, you shouldn’t fast forward to the presentation of your own product portfolio. What is important here is to get to know the prospective customer better and to explore his or her needs. What kind of business does he operate? What kind of product ranges does she have? What kind of customers buy from them? … Anyone who knows the needs of their counterparts can provide them with more targeted advice and increase the chance of gaining a new customer.

9) Plan short breaks

Days spent at trade fairs are long – not just for the visitors, but above all for the staff of the exhibitors. Only those who occasionally get the chance to briefly withdraw from the fair and catch their breath for a while can hold motivated and productive discussions throughout the fair.

10) Collect and document your trade fair leads

With your prepared contact sheets (see point 3), employees at the stand can quickly and easily document the leads made at the trade fair. Business cards of the individuals involved in the discussions can be attached directly to the sheet, thus making it easier to document the contacts. It is vital that the contact sheets are not lost in the hustle and bustle of the fair. They should, therefore, be collected after each conversation and put into appropriate folders or files and stored safely during dismantling of the stand or transported straight to HQ for follow-up activities.

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