Don’t you dare sit behind that table… and other Home Show sins

If you’ve ever worked a consumer or trade show, you know how quickly exhilaration and great conversation can turn to eternal boredom and clock-watching.  Sisyphus might have been punished with eternally rolling a builder up a hill, but at least he wasn’t stuck in an empty event center on the back half of a Sunday afternoon.

But, like cold calling once was, the home show is an amazing opportunity to pump qualified leads into your business, while also making prospects like, respect and view you as just the kind of guy (or gal) to do their next job.

I’ve worked a lot of shows in my life and I’m not gonna lie… setting up early in the morning and tearing down late into the evening (or into the next morning) is not fun.

But, there are some critical things that can help make the home show a great experience; for you, and more importantly, your customer.

  1. Toss the chair! (oh…and put the freakin’ phone away)

Nothing says, “I don’t care about you Mr. & Mrs. Homeowner,” like walking through a hall, arena or vestibule and being greeted with the hairy, or balding, top of someone’s head, as they sit behind their table/booth immersed in “work” on their phone.   We all know it’s a bubble game.  Breaks are fine, but don’t do those in sight of attendees.  You should be at the front of the table or booth (or even out into the walkway) greeting folks as they walk by.

And the phone….you shouldn’t be on your phone.  Think about it, you or your company paid to be here and you should use this time interacting with the folks that ARE here, even if its only other vendors.  You can certainly have a phone/tablet/computer present at the booth, but that’s only to be used in the interest of better interacting with the people at the show (more on this later)

  1. Winners don’t pack up early!

I’m not proud to admit this, but I used to be the guy who would pack up early when the show was “dead.”  Then, I worked a booth with a colleague who pointed out how horrible this practice is.  Again, you or your company have paid to be here, and show hours are advertised.  What if a great customer is unable to get to the show until just before it closed?  Have you ever been packed up, only to be greeted by a potential customer who’s schedule wouldn’t allow them to get there until late?

If you take the time to keep your displays/booth/etc. set up until the very end, you’ll send a message that many of your peers don’t; one of professionalism and respect for the customer.  Not only are you still there, but you are also available and ready to engage immediately.  And, you don’t have to look for your information.

  1. If you don’t know, don’t pretend.

This is a tough one for many of us.  But, few of us no everything.  Plus, customers can tell when you are trying to obscure your lack of knowledge.  If you don’t have an answer to one of their questions, say so immediately.  Then, tell them when you can give them one.

NOTE:  Ask them if its okay if you meet with, call or email them.  This is good because it addresses a concern the customer has: “This guy just wants an appointment.”  It also shows that you are sincerely interested in helping them, not just getting your foot in their house or telling them what they want to hear.  Don’t understimate the good will that “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” can actually generate.  And, if they say to just send an email, great.  At least they are letting you communicate.  And, as you already know, some will let you in the house to make a proper presentation.

And remember, under promise and over deliver.  No matter the question, its important to the prospect.  So, be honest with them…tell them it might take you a few days and ask when they need the information by.  Then, deliver it by then.

  1. Be the show expert.

Take some time to know who the other presenters are…the layout of the booths.  Then, as you talk to potential customers, you can give them information and direction on other areas that might be useful to them.  For example, if they are talking to you about replacing their windows, who at the show could you refer them to discuss interior decorating or window coverings?  This helps the customer, reminds them that you don’t just care about selling them something, and can go a long way towards building a relationship with people and companies who can serve your customers in peripheral areas.

  1. Finally, take good information.

Its important that you get good, clean information from the customer.  Name, phone, email, address, interests, etc.  What good is getting someone interested in you if you can’t remember what they need, or who they are.

This information can be collected pretty simply, with a sign-up sheet or contact list.  Or, and now is the time to talk tablets and technology, you could use an app like the one offered by our friends at iCapture.  This app easily allows you to capture prospect information at shows, send thank you/follow-up emails, export their data to Excel, or better yet, upload their information to your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.  iCapture integrates with MarketSharp CRM so that you can easily get prospect information into our Remodeler focused tool.

The key to a successful home show is pretty simple.  Be engaged, be useful and keep the customer communicating.  Use these 5 tips to help you do that and your next home show will be your best one yet. For more tips about home shows and events….

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