As a small business owner, I have to play multiple roles to help my company achieve success. I’m a technician, an accountant, a secretary and some days even a janitor. But no matter how many hats I wear, at the end of the day I’m just one thing: a salesman. Same holds true for every other business owner out there, big or small. We’re all hustling to keep our businesses alive and buzzing.
But I don’t want to be a common, run-of-the-mill salesman. I want to be a rockstar salesman. Someone like Donald Trump or Richard Branson. These guys hustle with style and class and there’s no denying their results.
Rockstars need a stage to perform and for the business owner, that stage is the trade show floor of a sales expo. So here’s five rules to help you “go big” at your next sales expo or conference:
1. Lose the swag bag
You’re dressed for the show, business cards at the ready, breath-check complete. You sign the register, get a name tag and then bam! An oversized, envio-friendly sack stuffed with tons of compelling, well-designed brochures and handouts is thrust at you. You begrudgingly accept because how else will you carry all the swag offered by the multitude of vendors on the floor? Nothing says fanboy like a swag bag. Rockstars don’t carry swag bags. They exchange business cards but only when appropriate. At least swag bags have handles so you can carry them over your shoulder….not!
Bonus Tip: If you really want all the business info that swag bags have to offer, you can go to the expo website and download what you need. Not big on digital? Pick up a bag on your way out or call the expo organizers to have info mailed to you.
2. Lower your expectations to raise your success
Trade shows can be exciting. With so many people, the opportunity for business connections seems unlimited. But before you go rockin’ the floor, know this: the people you really want to connect with (decision makers) are not working behind the booth. And if they are, they are exhausted from endless conversations and standing on their feet. Either way, rockstars know this is not the time to make a meaningful connection. Instead, use the expo as a fact finding mission for companies you want to work with. Ask targeted questions such as “who is the head of marketing?” or “when is your busiest time of year?” Remember the 4 S’s: Subtle, Succinct, Sincere equals Success.
3. Realize that sales is a borderless state
Everyone at a trade show is there to sell. But vendors behind a booth paid for the privilege to pitch their ideas to you. Rockstars know this and don’t try to turn the tables or push their agenda on exhibitors. A rockstar’s goal is to see and be seen, to show interest without lingering. When you sense mutual interest, exchange business cards. Your good impression will carry over to another meeting.
4. Avoid going solo
Rockstars give the impression that they alone have all the bases covered. But in reality, they depend on a team. Having others in attendance with you gives immediate social proof that you are worth doing business with. If you’re thinking this is starting to sound like a popularity contest, you’re right because it is. As Jeffery Gitomer would say: “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things not being equal, people still want to do business with their friends.” Bring your friends and make some new ones.
5. Comfort is your enemy
People are drawn to the familiar which in a trade show environment means clinging to the people you know or wandering the floor hoping lightning will strike. Now is not the time for stage fright. Yes, even rockstars get butterflies but the difference is how they deal with them. Rockstars use their nervous energy and channel it towards their goals. Your goal is to avoid being static by moving around the floor, smiling and saying hi to people you don’t know. If you find you are standing around talking to the same people from your company, you’re doing it all wrong.
Perform these 5 steps and you’ll be the main attraction at your next business expo. Keep selling!