Giant Plinko boards. Robots. Slot machines. Is this a trade show floor or a wild night in Las Vegas?
Experiential marketing is increasingly popular at events, but it can be a huge gamble for companies. Yes, a great booth experience is mandatory, but interactive booths and catchy swag can be magnets for the wrong audience — those looking for cool gear and a free show.
Meanwhile, your return on event (ROE) hinges on attracting and converting quality booth traffic. 40% of event marketers say that a lack of conversion strategies is the biggest obstacle to converting booth traffic, according to the Regalix B2B Event Marketing Survey.
In the B2B world, most conversions start with conversations. It may seem obvious, but for some reason, event teams tend to forget that attendees are yearning for a decent conversation starter on the chaotic expo floor.
So, how can you qualify the greatest volume of relevant attendees? Every representative of the company on the show floor should rehearse some conversation 101s. It all starts by asking good questions that both prompt a response and relay insight into the potential of a prospect in a matter of seconds.
As a starting point, ask the following three questions, and really listen for answers that indicate a customer prospect to start converting more booth traffic.
1. What Brought you [to this Event]?
Asking an open-ended question prompts the listener to engage around their favorite topic: themselves and why they are there. This creates an instant connection, by turning the focus on the attendee and their motivations at the event rather than your product or booth. Once you understand their situation, you can tailor your pitch to deliver precise value.
Was their answer relevant to what your company does? Don’t go right into the sales pitch, but begin to qualify them with a few more questions and then begin explaining how your solution could be a great fit. Trade show floors aren’t the place to get in the weeds on your product; offer to follow up with more details and any additional information.
If your company doesn’t solve their problem, don’t leave a potential relationship in the dust. Introduce them to someone relevant, or offer advice on another product you saw at the same show. Attendees are more likely to mention your company to fellow attendees if they remember a valuable interaction.
2. Are you Facing [this Specific Problem]?
Rather than spouting your sales pitch at every passerby, start with a qualifying question that puts their problem first while highlighting your solution. From our experience, this question immediately puts attendees at ease because they aren’t immediately being sold.
If they answer yes, follow up with a couple more qualifying questions that focus on their problem to really reel them in. Get them to keep saying yes to facing this problem and begin learning the nuances of their companies. Don’t forget to ask the other qualifiers you’ll need to know, like the size of their budget, their authority to purchase, and timing. This will ensure that you know their interest is aligned with your business metrics.
Once you’ve got them nodding their heads in excitement, provide a concrete example of how you solved this problem for a similar company. Offer to send the case study via email and additional information and get that coveted business card from your new qualified prospect.
What if they answer no? Be polite, follow up and ask what problems they are facing, and try to provide valuable information if possible (Hint: knowing where the best parties/events is always a good thing).
3. Are you Looking for [a Product that Solves X Problem]?
While very similar to the previous question, this rephrasing emphasizes the solution to their problem rather than the problem itself.
Many times businesses recognize that they face a problem but aren’t yet committed to solving it. This could be due to budget concerns, timing, other priorities, or any other variety of things. Phrasing the ask this way helps clarify if they’re actively looking for a solution to their problem.
Event teams that assess both fit and timing will convert booth traffic more efficiently. Questions that contain a positioning statement like this help your team hook potential prospects and translate them into marketing and sales qualified leads at events faster.
Conversations Drive Revenue
Flashy displays don’t drive event revenue, quality conversations do. To attract and convert the greatest volume of booth traffic, event sales and marketing teams must move beyond a quick hello and an overt sales pitch. These conversations starters are meant to help booth staff open dialogue, convert event attendees into prospects more effectively, and uncover more MQLs and SQLs on the expo floor.
At your next conference or trade show, be sure to prepare the team (and yourself) with quick, incisive questions that highlight prospects’ problems, evoke your company’s value, and spark meaningful dialogues. You’ll net more follow-ups, schedule more on-site and post-show meetings, and drive more revenue at events.
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