Perfecting the Tradeshow “Ask”

An Exhibitor Magazine article, entitled “Asked & Answered” by John Baker (former SVP and COO of American Express), discussed the power of persuasion and shared a “6-Step Asking Formula” for getting what you want, every time.

The formula defined a clear procedure that professionals could follow when “asking” their superiors for something, e.g. a raise, extra resources, or larger budgets.

Here are the 6 Steps in brief:

Step One:    Define clear objectives … know what you want

Step Two:    Clearly ask for it.  Don’t be coy.

Step Three: Support your “ask” visually when possible, i.e. photos, charts, etc.

Step Four:    Strengthen your “ask” with “best reasons,” i.e. what’s in it for them.

Step Five:     Stop Talking.  Be quiet and gather feedback.

Step Six:       Share.  Provide additional details when appropriate.

What’s striking about this process is how it can be extrapolated to guide trade show attendee interactions.  For example:

Step One – Define: You cannot communicate everything about your product in one booth interaction. Your prospect won’t remember most of what you’ve said. A better strategy would be to define your understanding of the attendee’s need or interest and stick to that narrow focus.

Steps Two – The Ask: Ask the attendee for permission to present your capabilities, making sure to indicate how much time you’ll need to share them. This respects the attendee’s time and is more likely to secure their undivided attention.

Step Three – Visual Support: Trade show demos tend to long, sprawling affairs. Think back to point #1 and don’t get trapped into showing your whole demo. Use only the portion needed to make your point, satisfy the attendee’s needs, and set the table for future follow-up. 

Step Four – Strengthen:  When you’ve identified a pain point, strengthen your message by supporting it with proof points like real-world outcomes that you created for another client.

Step Five – Listening:  Ask yourself: “Am I actually listening and absorbing what the attendee is telling me? Or am I letting my mind wander while waiting for my turn to talk?” Active listening can help you identify important buying clues.   

Step Six – Share: Now is the time to record notes of the conversation in the lead capture app or device. Provide as much detail as possible so that any one on the sales team can effectively follow-up after the show. .  

In-booth attendee interactions require a clear understanding of prospect needs, the ability to concisely convey your solution story and skillful attendee management. Incorporate the six steps into your attendee engagements and elevate your personal style.