When an attendee visits your booth but you realize he either doesn’t match your personal reasons for participating (so you don’t want to chat with him) or your focused area of expertise (so you aren’t properly equipped for a discussion), what do you do? If you aren’t exhibiting alone, you should introduce the attendee to someone who is better able to help. Learn how this process of in-booth introductions can be completed efficiently and effectively with these four steps (taking you from identification to follow through …plus one bonus suggestion).
Step One: Recognize your Resources
Familiarize yourself with your own (internal) resources first so that you can select the most appropriate representative to speak with each attendee. Start by asking yourself these questions:
– What offerings does your company provide to this market?
– Who are the experts within your company for each offering?
– Of those experts, who is attending your event?
– Of those experts, which professionals are they looking to speak with, who is willing and able to speak with attendees outside of their specific area of expertise, and when will each expert be available to chat with visitors?
Ideally the answers to these questions would be shared with your full booth staff before every show day begins; but, at a minimum, be sure to ask and answer the above questions for yourself before each new event to refresh your memory of those participating and to accommodate any changes from previous events.
Step Two: Understand the Situation
After you realize that you aren’t the correct person to chat with this visitor but before you decide that someone else is, you must take the time to understand why the attendee has come to your booth. This is done by actively listening to his introduction so you can clearly identify his situation and needs. In other words, you shouldn’t just be listening for particular buzzwords you aren’t familiar with; but instead, focus on obtaining a complete picture of the intended conversational direction (is the attendee looking to buy your product, ask a technical question about your recent published paper, sell something to you or consider partnerships, etc).
Remember that, even if only for a few moments, you are the expert on this encounter. You now know more about your visitor, colleagues, and company than anyone else directly involved. So, as you expand your understanding of the situation, you should also be looking for ways to take full advantage of your unique perspective and make the best possible match.
Step Three: Introduce and Summarize
Once you have selected the appropriate representative (according to your attendee’s situation), bring your attendee to her, introduce your colleague to the attendee, and then summarize the attendee’s question or interest area for your colleague, sharing only the most relevant and important information. Finally, wait for the attendee to continue your explanation and/or your colleague to start answering the question you asked, before excusing yourself from the conversation, so you can determine that the pairing is indeed a good match.
As long as you tailor your introduction/summary properly, this step will help your colleague answer the attendee’s questions more quickly and progress the conversation even further than they could have otherwise. It is a fine line because you must provide enough background information so that your colleague can pick up where you left off, but not so much detail that either person gets lost. If you will be completing pre-show training sessions with your booth staff, it would be a good idea to consider role playing likely scenarios to help your team get into the habit of properly tailoring these transitions for one another.
Step Four: Follow Through
Later on, as you notice the attendee leaving your booth or if you see him at another time during the event, simply smile politely and verify that your colleague answered his questions fully.
This step is important because reminds your visitor that your company cares about him, provides you with an opportunity to remedy any remaining needs (or reinforce your colleague’s expertise, helpfulness, and other positive qualities), and offers one more “touch” to progress your sales process, where applicable. Because this step is often overlooked by exhibitors, it is the perfect time for your company to set yourself apart from the competition and make a lasting positive impression.
Bonus Suggestion: Speak Up
If you are chatting with an attendee during a slow period (or you have more than enough representatives in your booth), the easiest primer to facilitating a smooth transition for your guest is to speak loudly so that at least one of your associates can eavesdrop on your conversation. This is especially helpful in three situations: (1) If one of your colleagues is better suited to speak on that topic, she can interject. (2) If you are called away, she can continue. (3) If this is an important conversation for you to remain a part of, she can run interference so you can continue doing so uninterrupted.
To capitalize on the diverse audience you will meet during your next event and take advantage of the experts representing your company, make note of these four steps to successful in-booth introductions and practice them with your team during your pre-show training sessions. As always, if there’s ever anything I can do to help you or one of your associates, please don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.
About the author
Robyn Davis was raised by self-employed parents, learning the ins and outs of business…