How to increase exhibition sales

Looking to increase your exhibition sales but not sure how to go about it?

In this article, we go through our top 9 tips to increase sales at your next event.

Read on to find out how planning and tailoring everything to help meet your objectives is the key to success.

9 ways to increase your exhibition sales

1. Planning - setting and measuring the right goals

We’ve all heard that old age adage: By failing to prepare, you’re preparing to fail.

There’s a reason why it’s such a popular saying - because we always forget how important it is to plan!

In order to succeed at an exhibition, you need to understand what that actually means in pounds and pence to your business.

Set goals based on the return on investment that you want to reach. Make sure you account for all expenditure - from venue hire, transportation costs through to stand design and staff costs.

If you’re unsure how to work out and measure ROI? Check out this post:

Want to be a marketing ninja and measure your ROI? Learn more...  

2. Stand design with an action in mind

Exhibiting is all about capturing the attention of your audience in a busy hall. It’s rare that businesses stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their competitors and have a captive audience that are ready to part with their cash or find new vendors.

To capture attention, you need to carefully think about the design of your exhibition stand. It’s the first thing that people see when they pass your stand, so it needs to help entice people to talk to your staff.

In a recent study, we found that only 20% of exhibition banners use a call to action - so make sure you’re ahead of the curve by asking passersby to do something. Also, make sure you tell them the benefit to them of choosing your brand.

Example: If you usually say ‘Increased ROI’ as one of your benefits, change this to ‘See how we can help improve your ROI today’ as your tagline. You’re giving them a positive action to take, adding immediacy with ‘today’ as well as giving a fear of missing out if they don’t come and talk to you. It holds a lot more power than just ‘increased ROI’.

Just make sure to focus on one message/action, else your display will look too cluttered!

3. Don’t forget your biggest asset...your staff

When planning an exhibition and aiming for a great ROI, the biggest downfall is forgetting about your stand staff.

We’re not talking about literally forgetting about your stand staff, but specifically about the role that they play in exhibiting success for your business.

If they aren’t trained in sales tactics, or trained on the day on how to convert a visitor to a lead - asking open ended questions to vett your visitors for their value to your business? Then you’ve got a problem.

If your sales team also don’t know how to act on stand (such as not to use their mobile phone), then you’ve got a problem.

They are your biggest asset and the biggest driver of sales - without them? You have no sales.

So what can you do?

Train them. Read up on how you and your team should act to increase your sales. Find out how to motivate them and make sure you keep them involved with your event planning.

Think you know how to behave on a stand? Learn more...

4. Attract and engage with your visitors

Visitors want to feel involved on your exhibition stand so give them something that will engage all of their senses and not just their eyes.

Although attracting visitors with all singing all dancing fun games and activities looks like a compelling thing to do, you’ll need to make sure that everything you’re taking to the event can be used by your sales team as a conversion and conversation tool.

Talk to your sales team when planning your exhibition about the problems they face when converting visitors to sales.

Think about how you can help your sales team. Is it that they can’t show off a product properly? How about a short animation that explains it? Is it that they need visitors to trust their work a bit more? You could use an ipad stand to show visitors your portfolio.

It’s also worth using iPads to collect information which can eventually be used as leads to generate new sales. It helps speed up the after-show contact process - which is proven to increase the chance of making a sale.  35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first after a show [source:InsideSales.com] - so time is ticking after the event!

5. Don’t judge a book by its cover

There are many forms of judgement and when it comes to shows, stand staff sometimes make the mistake of judging based on position.

It’s important to remember to treat everybody the same. Just because ‘prospect a’ doesn’t hold a senior position or at least, one you deem desirable, it doesn’t mean that they’re not worth talking to.

Disqualifying prospects by position massively limits your opportunities. How many sales have you lost with this approach?

Why you shouldn't judge a visitor by their seniority

6. Ask questions and listen

It’s not about going in for the hard sell but rather asking questions to find out what it is the prospect wants, and whether or not your product or service is right for them.

If you and your prospect are a match, don’t just reel off a list of USPs and tell them why they should choose you.

Get to know more about them and ask more questions about what it is they’re looking for in a product or service. Only then can you really start to sell anything.

The key is to ask good questions and listen. Let them do most of the talking!

7. Knowledge is a must

There are two things stand staff must be knowledgeable about:

  • The brand they’re representing

  • The product or service they’re selling.

Would you be able to confidently answer questions about what makes your brand a pioneer in the industry?

If a prospect is asking you what the USP of your advertised service is, how will you answer?

Lack of knowledge makes your brand look bad and it won’t instil confidence among interested parties. Stand staff must be prepared and be able to answer a wide range of questions.

‘Urm’, ‘Well, uh…’ and ‘Let me ask my colleague’ are highly unlikely to achieve positive results.

8. Keep your staff motivated

As well as setting rules and expectations for your event staff, you’ll also need to work out how you’re going to keep them motivated.

An unmotivated staff are bored and tire easily. They don’t bring their A-game, checking their phones and subconsciously turning away potential customers.

Contrary to popular belief, visitors do not want your staff to stand there with a smile painted on their face preaching about how your company has changed the face of the industry. Instead, they want to be greeted by a personable character with a sense of humour.

A person that wants to be there.

Set realistic goals - and prizes - for the number of leads and sales they can get based on how long they are working the show. A bit of healthy competition can keep morale up!

Also make sure that you’re not overworking your staff.

Sure, you want them to make as many leads and sales as they can, but shows are long days.

Schedule in regular breaks and make sure they stick to them. They’ll thank you for it.

At the end of the show, it’s important to recognise and value the hard work that everybody has put in and to celebrate achievements together.

Keep your staff motivated at events

9. Stay until the very end

Don’t make the mistake of packing away your exhibition stand early… or even on time!

At the end of a long and tiring few days you’ll want nothing more than to beat the traffic, jump into a hot shower, and have a long sleep before work the next day. Don’t use this as an excuse though.

Packing away early is a definite way to miss out on sales. And rather than leaving on time, why not stay a little longer and wait around? You never know who might wander over to your stand.

Staying until the very end is always worth it if there’s a potential sale to be made!

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