8. Qualify your visitors
Some visitors may only be time-wasters, although you can never be too sure. You can’t know this until you engage with them and you most certainly can’t always judge by first appearances! Moreover, even if they may not be buying for themselves, they may still be buying for someone else. So however tired you are, however unengaged they may appear to be, let good manners and common courtesy always be your watchword.
But in the end, you need to focus your time on those who may be the most productive. The best way to do this is to ‘qualify’ them. You can do this by gentle but very direct questioning. In a business-to-business transaction, this can be much easier. Just ask: [i]“Can I just note which company you represent?”; “Would you
mind telling me your job title?“; “Can I ask what that involves?“; “Does your organisation use our type of products/services?”; “May I ask whom your organisation uses at the moment to supply these?”; “How does that all work for you at the moment?”; “Is there anything you know of that could be even better?” and then: “Could I have your card?”, “Is there anyone else you suggest I should contact in your organisation about this?”
Selling to the general public is often much more difficult because ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ can be so much more ambiguous, but we may all still be consumers! So consider asking: “Have you ever bought GHI before?” “Could you see yourself ever buying XYZ? What would you be looking for if so?”; “Could you see anyone in your family circle wanting XYZ? — what would they be looking for?”.
As the secret of a successful show is to meet as many good prospects and clients as possible in the time available, however you might rate each visitor, you will need to develop an exit strategy for each one so you can move on politely to meet others as soon as it is appropriate. So consider grading your visitors into a) “Thank you for your interest; I do hope you enjoy the rest of your visit here” (Time waster? – goodbye); b) “Do take a leaflet/card/sample” (Weak prospect? — polite closure for the moment); c) “Let’s make a date to meet again to talk in more detail when things are less busy” (Good prospect? — agree a next action before they go, such as a future appointment or call); d) “Let’s go and have a cup of coffee/bite to eat so we won’t be disturbed by others” (Red hot prospect, not to be let go of, or near your competitors!) – which is another reason why you need at least two people on your stand.)