Listening to trade show attendees who visit your exhibit is a necessary interaction that increases sales and fosters a positive brand image. However, there is just as much art in knowing how to disengage quickly and gracefully from booth visitors as there is to engaging with them. Staff time is limited if the goals are to interact with as many people as possible, generate leads that result in sales, and increase brand awareness.
To assure your booth staff has the opportunity to meet show objectives, a systematic disengagement strategy is key. Here are strategies your staff can use to politely disengage from attendees while still making a great impression on the tradeshow floor.
The Art of Deflection
We’ve all been in a situation when conversations with trade show visitors turns into idle chit-chat. If you simply tell someone you don’t have time to talk, you risk offending them and losing a possible lead. Instead, try using the art of deflection. Deflecting a person’s attention onto something or someone else is a polite and effective means of disengaging from a conversation.
Before the exhibition hall opens its doors, get together with your team to establish a discrete signal, such as clasping your hands together, to indicate to unoccupied coworkers that you are in need of saving. This discrete gesture signals available booth staff to interrupt your conversation with the talkative attendee and provides you with an exit strategy.
Your coworker then approaches the two of you and interjects with, “Sorry to intrude, but there seems to be an issue with x and you’re the only one who knows how to fix it. Can I steal you for a moment so you can take a look at it?” Before you leave the conversation, make sure you thank them for their time and let them know you’re needed elsewhere.
If used appropriately, the art of deflection is best deployed when stuck in conversations with show attendees who have no show-related business with you and just want to chat and catch up. Be mindful of your body language as you disengage in dialogue, and be sure to follow through and head towards the “problem” that needs fixing.
Perfecting the “Hand Off”
Another great approach to keep in your disengagement strategy arsenal is perfecting the hand-off. After engaging in conversation with a booth visitor, you’ve gathered enough information to identify that this attendee meets enough of the lead requirements to qualify them as a potential client. You’ve done your due diligence in delivering your sales pitch and you know there is more nurturing that could be done, but there are other attendees that need your attention.
In order to successfully use this disengagement tactic, wait for the attendee to finish their thought, casually glance at the time and ask if you’d be able to reconvene later as you have an appointment with another visitor and you think one of your colleagues could share some information of interest.
Instead of leaving them high and dry, walk the attendee over to an available co-worker and personally hand them off with proper introductions. Be careful not to pair the attendee with someone who will repeat the same pitch you just delivered. If properly deployed, not only will you make yourself available to interact with other booth visitors, but you’ll also expose the potential client to alternative avenues for education and engagement with other members of your team.
The Gift of Giving
Everyone loves receiving free stuff, right? After briefly engaging with an attendee, you realize this person doesn’t meet the lead requirements. To disengage with this type of booth visitor, kill the conversation with kindness by offering them a giveaway item, informational literature on your company, or (if applicable) suggest entering them into your company’s raffle. Continue the conversation as you guide them towards the show floor aisle, and after you’ve reached your destination politely say, “It was a pleasure meeting you. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Enjoy the rest of your time at the show!”
Although this approach is a little forward, only deploy this strategy with attendees who don’t meet your company’s lead requirements, or who show no interest in leaving the exhibit any time soon. Be careful to not use this disengagement strategy as your “go-to” tactic.
Bringing in The Big Guns
Let’s say you’re engaged with a talkative attendee who is interested in your brand but has still not made a firm commitment to take the next step toward becoming a client. Here is where you need to bring in the “Big Guns.”
If company executives are going to be available at the show, your booth staff should be training so that they know when an introduction to a viable prospect would be appropriate. Or if current clients are going to be at the show, find out if they would be willing to act as a reference and how you might facilitate an introduction with a prospect that has similar challenges as your client.
If such introductions are made in your trade show exhibit, be sure the conversation happens in a relatively quiet part area and doesn’t disrupt the flow of other visitors through the booth.
Playing Match Maker
As you prepare for the upcoming show, make sure you’ve identified other non-competitive exhibitors whose offerings may be able to fill your prospects’ needs in a value-add way. After an in-booth interaction has run its course, try directing the attendee to visit Company Xs exhibit. This disengagement strategy provides a smooth ending to the conversation and leaves the attendee knowing you’ve got their best interest at heart. Just be sure that there’s a clear understanding between your company and the one you’re promoting to send their referrals to your booth, and not your competitors.
There’s nothing worse than letting any booth visitor leave your exhibit with a bad impression, so we suggest that your entire booth staff act in a positive and polite manner, especially when trying to disengage with attendees. Utilizing pre-planned disengagement strategies while on the show floor helps to optimize your time spent in your exhibit to connect with potential customers. Contact Exhibitus today to learn more about how to optimize your time in your exhibit with your target audience to increase your trade show ROI.