It’s What They Want, Not What You Have

A few weeks ago I was working on behalf of a company at a business exhibition, using my strolling magic to engage with visitors as they walked around the event. I am not selling anything directly, but my job is to interact with people, entertain them and in doing so to draw attention to the business that I am sponsored by.

At one point I stopped a lady who was walking round on her own, and I chatted with her and showed her some magic. In the course of our conversation she made what I thought was a very telling point. She said, “You know, you are the only person working here today who has sought to talk to and engage with me, rather than just pitch to me.”

She then went on to explain that her experience in the couple of hours that she had been walking around the exhibition hall, was that those people working at the show who had approached her up to now, had all simply tried to force their publicity on her, or pass on information about what they had to sell. Not a single one of them had actually asked her what she was looking for or why she had come to the event. It was all just sell, sell, sell, and she found it very unappealing.

Sales People Pounce!

I thought this was a truly fascinating insight into what must be a fairly common experience for exhibition attendees. As they walk around, they get pounced upon by enthusiastic sales people whose only approach seems to be to tell them what they have, not to ask what the potential customer might want or be interested in.

This seems to me to be a fundamental error, and is perhaps a reason why so many show visitors, after walking the trade show aisles for a while, start to get slightly defensive when sales people try to approach them. The attendee is simply sold to, and it may well be that most of the time, the service/product that is being offered is not anything they are even remotely interested in.

The Softly, Softly Approach

For years my opening line when I stop people as they walk around an exhibition, is to say who I am and then immediately add, “Don’t worry, I’m not here to sell you anything.” The look of relief on many peoples’ faces when I say this is very noticeable! It backs up the assertion that the lady above made about the somewhat aggressive approach of most people working on trade stands.

In fact, asking whether a visitor is looking for anything specific is not only a politeness, but it is also a way of perhaps avoiding wasting time with people who have come just with a short list of things that they wish to find out about. Similarly, enquiring about the nature of the attendees own business and making a quick value judgement about whether there is anything that you, as a trader, can help them with, also enables you to suggest ways that you could help them which they may not have realised or thought of. Rather than just push a service or product at random, it allows you to talk in a more targeted and relevant way to this person. As a result, attendees are more interested in what you have to say.

Getting A Better Return On Effort

Traders expend a lot of time, energy and expense into having a display at a business exhibition. Decorating the shell scheme, preparing and laying out the publicity, deciding on who from the sales staff will be attending, all these preparations and more are the aspects that tend to dominate the minds of companies. Yet organisers are spoiling their efforts by using clumsy or ill judged methods of approaching the actual customers. So finding the best way to make the initial contact with a potential prospect, could be vital to getting a good return from attending the event.

This entry was posted in Business Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *