Talking to Exhibitors
By Sara Batts & Liz Blankson-Hemans
Exhibitions can be a bit overwhelming. But it’s not that difficult to start a conversation with a supplier. They are, after all, human beings, and they work in the same industry as you.
As we’ve seen the view from the other side of the stand, as it were, here are a few useful pointers for a successful exhibition visit.
We don’t have piercing, killer, laser-vision. Making eye contact with us is perfectly safe. There’s nothing that looks funnier from the exhibition stand that to see someone diligently reading your backdrop, or a leaflet, or scanning your displays, resolutely refusing to make eye contact. I may only just be going to say hello and smile.
And I can see you: you are not invisible, so if you’d like to help yourself to a handful of my pens or sweets or other freebies, please do so — It’s why I carried them halfway across the country, but it would be nice to acknowledge that I’m there.
It doesn’t matter that you are not necessarily in charge of a multi-million pound budget. You might be one day (we’re all optimists here!). And it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with other products that are on the market other than those you use on a daily basis. So ask those questions about the product being demonstrated. There’s no need to pretend you are interested in buying if you are not, but do let me know where you stand. Then I can then tailor my approach accordingly. Of course, if you’re a satisfied customer, then please tell me. That’s very nice to know. I probably won’t engage you in any long sales pitch unless you tell me you are seriously keen. But if you have heard enough, and need to leave, just tell me or make a nice excuse like ‘I have a session to attend.’ Don’t feel obliged to give me your business card or take mine if you are really not interested.
If there’s a particular product or service you need to know about then your conversation is easy. But if you’re just stuck for a starter, here are some ideas for useful opening gambits you could try:
- Ask for a brief overview of the product. If you use a rival or similar service ask for a comparison of the two. Ask if we are showcasing any new features or products at the event.
- If it’s a database you use, you’re welcome to ask about training or handy hints — there may be functionality you have forgotten or don’t know about.
Failing any of this… just say hello, ask me how my time at the show has been so far, or even say something about the weather!