This article was publsihed in full, yesterday on Linkedin pulse, you can find it under "What not to do at Trade Shows".
I visited two trade shows in the past 6 weeks, the Marketo user conference and Sales 2.0 and worked the exhibit floor looking for new sales and marketing applications that might be of relevance to my customers.
I was also looking for opportunities where early stage companies might require help with inbound marketing and creating message clarity.
Tiffani Bova of Gartner on-stage at Sales 2.0
Lots of fresh faces at the Marketo show. Probably 70% of booth staff at the Marketo event were under 30 years of age.
Loved the enthusiasm and the energy, however after asking the "so what do you guys do?" 30 times, I got tired of being pitched without any consideration of where my interests might lie.
The other peeve is that I got pitched on every occasion. No-one likes being pitched, however at tradeshows, salespeople seem to think this is what must be done. "You've only got a few seconds to engage so give them your best elevator pitch early"
I don't know if it's just me, but within a few seconds of realizing its a "pitch" and not a conversation and the salesperson is on autopilot, I feel my mind go blank as the wall of sound washes over me. Perhaps picking up a few keywords along the way, I politely wait until the pitch is over and ask.. so how's it going then?
This is not a problem unique to millennials - it's a universal problem for salespeople. Salespeople do not know how to answer the "so what do you guys do" question and it’s variant at networking events, “so what do you do?”
Rules for Salespeople at Tradeshows
Two simple rules for salespeople at Trade-shows in answer to the "so what do you guys do?" question that will increase the value of their conversations and convert more passers-by into prospects.
- Before you say anything about your product, politely ask the booth visitor, "So that I can best answer your question, could you share with me what your role is in your organization".
- Now that you know what their role is, you can ask this next question, "can I ask what the top two items are on your whiteboard of priorities"?, or "what do you see as the biggest problems/challenges in getting your job done".
Though asking these two simple questions you know where the visitor is coming from and how you might be able to help them.
You also know if they are a prospect for your stuff, or if you are likely to waste your time with them... in which case you can offer a tchotchke and politely disengage.
Answering the "So What Do you Do" Question
When you feel you are getting a pitch, you tune out within a few seconds. It's human nature, it's like watching your favorite movie and being interrupted by an ad. Do you listen to the ad? No, you get up, go to the fridge or the bathroom or flick around until your show comes back on. That is what visitors to your booth are doing when you pitch them.