The elements of an excellent visual journey are shown on this small stand. Strong graphics stating what the business does. A digital screen that displayed videos and messages throughout the show. Also used but unseen; hand-held presenters, branded cookie giveaways (a play on the company name) and a fully briefed sales team.
The importance of a strong and consistent sales story when you exhibit
If your company is not well known, is not a recognized brand and especially if you are a service provider…
Then you are quite likely to be asked the following question when visitors walk onto your stand at an exhibition.
So what is it that you do?
You may well have a giant poster board behind you that says what you do but you’ll still get that question or a variation of it. Something like,
Oh, you’re in Facilities Management or Accounting Services, what does that cover?
And there it is. The moment that you (and your stand team) had better have a clear and concise description of what it is you do.
You won’t always be the conversation opener
Many exhibitor training sessions will tell you to be ready to engage with visitors when they come onto your stand. For you and your stand team to be ready to ask “Are you looking for something in particular?” Or, what brings you to the show today.” And many variations on these “openers.”
And they are good questions to ask and to have ready.
But if you are exhibiting on a small stand in a busy show, with just one or two colleagues supporting you, then you will find that it’s often visitors who are approaching you. So you need to be ready for that.
Being ready: Get your story straight
In life, we generally focus, often unconsciously, on what it is that we want.
When you exhibit, you want leads. You hope that many of those leads will become sales. And that’s good, for you.
Even some of the best salespeople, who are taught or instinctively know all about getting the prospect talking about what they want and need, forget this when it comes to working on an exhibition stand.
Why? Because an exhibition is not their normal sales environment. It’s certainly not the “normal” environment for other members of your team who may work in administration or technical areas of the business.
What you need to avoid is slightly different descriptions of “what you do” being given to visitors who ask their opening question.
You do that by preparing your “what it is we do” script in advance of the show and ensuring that everyone who will be working on the stand is clear on the answer to be provided.
Time is short so this better be good
When they attend a show, visitors want to see as many exhibitors as their time allows.
They are at the show because they are looking for new ideas. New suppliers and new ways of doing things. They may have a problem they need to solve. They are in a receptive frame of mind.
You, on the other hand, are not exhibiting to convert into a sale everyone in the exhibition hall.
A lot of visitors are not going to be right for what you sell. Rather, you want to attract and win businesses who get or need what you do.
That’s why your opening statement is so important. Often, it’s not just qualifying what you do, it’s also qualifying who it is you want to work with.
Question: So what is it that you do?
Answer: We are a content marketing agency based in London. We work with marketing managers and directors in companies typically turning over £2 -£5 million pounds although we do have clients below and above those thresholds. Our content services cover … your description here.
Then you ask: Are you looking for a content marketing agency? Do you work with a content marketing agency? Tell me about your business.. or variations of these questions.
Neither party has hours of time available to get to know each other. Qualifying whether or not you are both right for each other is helpful to both exhibitors and visitors.
Using stand exhibits and literature to smoothly move into sales mode
Once you have qualified that your stand visitor and their company use or could use a service or product like the one you supply, you can move into a selling presentation.
If you have a tablet or display folder, you can show your visitors examples of your work. You can also use your stand graphics or digital displays in the same way. In effect, you are moving attendees around your stand. This approach will work even if you are exhibiting on a very small stand. Just turn and point your way around your storyboard stand journey whether this is digital or printed.
Think about your stand journey in advance
For this approach to work, you will need to plan out “the journey” in advance. Your story is where you start.
Your “story” will provide the headlines for your graphics and digital displays. It will give you the phrases for your opening remarks whether you and your stand colleagues or visitors are leading the conversation.
Once you have the sales story settled you can think about what to show visitors next.
Will it be in print or be seen on a tablet, laptop or digital screen? Examples used should also ideally, further your qualifying process in the minds of visitors.
In other words, you will be showing visitors examples of what you do for companies and budgets that they can relate to. More crudely, that they can afford.
Finally, get everyone who will be working with you fully conversant with all of the elements of your stand presentation and your good to go.
During the show keep checking how the approach is working both for you personally and for other members of the team.
If you are able, move off the stand and observe how things are working. Do you see visitors engaging in the way that you hoped? Are they looking at tablet displays? Are they being pointed to graphics? Are they journeying around the stand? Fine-tune elements if you have to.
Post-show you will have another opportunity to tell visitors exactly what it is you do. Do this swiftly and clearly in your following-up, reminding visitors of what was discussed.
In the battle against mediocre results, you can’t afford to be vague or slow or be talking to people who are never likely to buy from you.
To your success and to great results.