Show Stoppers: Why are exhibition sales techniques so bad?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 13-Feb-2008

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I spent half a day at the London "Technology for Marketing and Advertising" show today. I wished I hadn't.

Each of the exhibitors had obviously spent significant sums of money merely paying for the space. The hidden costs in terms of preparation, employee time, etc. were undoubtedly several time higher.

So why was so much of this investment wasted? To start with, it was hard to work out what many of those companies did, or what customer problems they solved. Worse, most of the "elevator pitches" were barely coherent.

... and if I never, ever get approached again by a salesperson asking "can I help you", believe me, it won't be a day too soon. Even if they managed to get past this first barrier, asking for a demo inevitably resulted in "death by features".

Hardly anyone attempted to tailor what they showed me based on an attempt to first explore and understand my needs, or understood that in most demo situations, less is more and they should quit while they were ahead, unless asked for more detail by the prospect.

It makes me angry because, in these live environments, the people manning the stand are the brand - and the experience they offer the customer is either going to make a lasting impression - or be immediately forgotten.

There's a particular technique in making these sort of live events work - and if vendors are unable or unwilling to coach their salespeople appropriately, frankly, they would be far better off not taking part.

'scuse the rant!

Topics: Complex Sales