Last week, we had some advice on how to choose the right trade show from Nicole McIver, and this week, she’s back to share her tips on how to rock a trade show. Since trade shows tend to be industry specific, there’s a high chance you’ll be in an exhibition hall surrounded by your competitors.

In a situation where so many brands are offering similar products, what can you do to stand out?

  • Ensure your staff have sufficient product knowledge

    If you are bringing staff to the trade show, ensure they can answer all questions: what material is it made from, where is it made, do you have a stockist in ____, etc.
    In a typical sales situation, salespeople plan a meeting and talk to prospects in detail about the product for about an hour. On the other hand, a trade show is filled with thousands of attendees, leaving your staff with only a small window of time to win prospects over before they move on to the next booth. To increase your chances of clinching a deal, ensuring your staff have sufficient product and company knowledge to field questions and qualify leads is necessary.

    Yet in the hectic environment of a trade show, it can be difficult for you to keep track of leads and connections. Exchanging name cards is a possibility, but it may be difficult to remember who’s who when it’s time to follow up. Instead of relying on name cards, you can directly enter their particulars into your CRM using a mobile sales app.
  • Give more than just business cards

    Have a catalogue and an order form to hand out to all retailers that express interest - not just a business card that will be tossed out at the end of the night.
    You have your prospects’ particulars saved into a CRM application, but there’s a chance they’ll still be relying on name cards to keep track of brands they’re interested in.

    And at the end of the trade show, these retailers will only keep the name cards of the brands they remember. Even if they’ve expressed interest in following up with you at the show, they might lose your name card or throw it out by accident.

    Having a catalogue that you hand out to prospective retailers means they’ll be able to remember what it was about your brand that caught their eye. As for the order form, it’ll help remind them why placing an order as soon as possible is a great idea.

    In both cases, remember to provide an online option, i.e. your website where they can view your entire catalogue, or an online ordering form. Better yet, combine both and go one step ahead by simply inviting new customers via email to your B2B eCommerce store. 
  • Convince them to place an order at the show

    Offer an incentive to get prospects to order at the show instead of ordering at a later date.
    Tell prospects that if they place an order with you immediately, you’ll offer them a 10% discount, a reduced Minimum Order Quantity, or expedited shipping. For prospects who on the fence about purchasing your product, offering an incentive might be all it takes to tip the scales in your favor.

    However, writing up a sales order on the spot at your trade show booth can be a time-consuming task. Instead of lugging around a catalog and writing out paper orders, it may be time to make the move to a mobile sales app that serves as your product catalog and lets you writes orders on the go.

    Mobile technology lets you reach out to more customers, and you’ll be able to complete orders quicker. You’ll be able to add products to their order as they browse the mobile catalog, and complete their order with an email confirmation to seal the deal.
  • Get your invoices out to stores as quickly as possible

    Getting your invoices out to stores ASAP shows how efficient you are.
    You’ve managed to clinch a few wholesale orders while at the trade show. But you still need to send your new customers an invoice for their orders. The faster you send out your invoices, the more efficient you’ll appear to your customers. On top of that, getting your invoices “in” as soon as possible also means they won’t get lost in the flood of emails that tend to follow a trade show.

    If you’re already using TradeGecko, you should wholesale through the B2B eCommerce platform, which lets you manage everything through one central dashboard. You won’t need to key in the details of the sales order or manually copy it into an email for your customers. Since all the information related to the transaction has already been pushed to your account, you’ll be able to turn your sales order into an invoice with a few clicks.
  • Do hotel showings in the area while the trade show is going on

    It’s a more relaxed environment for everyone, and in between serving people you can put your feet up, do your work, etc.
    As we mentioned last week, trade shows are expensive. You may decide the cost of building a custom booth is too high, and instead choose to do a hotel showing that ends a few hours later than the trade show. A hotel showing basically involves booking a suitable room that is as close as possible to the trade show, and setting up your products for display. Before the event, you’ll have invited past and potential new stockists to view your range by appointment.

    If you feel that doing a hotel showing is better for your business, you’ll need to direct your efforts into publicising your hotel showing before the event. As McIver points out, “It’s more affordable, but you have to work hard to book appointments pre-show as you don’t really get any walk-ins. So it’s about the work you put in before to ensure you’re fully booked.”

    P.S: In the event you’re in Melbourne this August, McIver will be holding a hotel showing.

Now that we’ve talked a little about the important role of your sales team when it comes to going B2B, do stay tuned for next week’s installment when we take a look at what it takes to equip your sales team to impress and convert prospects into customers.


See More:

McIver's guide to maximizing profit in a wholesale business

The Price is Right - Wholesale Edition

5 lessons from the top 25 global supply chains of 2015