A few years ago, my wife and I attended a Home and Garden show. We discussed ahead of time that we wanted to get concrete borders around our yard and hoped to walk out of the show with a company selected to do the job. There was one issue driving our intention – a neater, more attractive yard.
As soon as we entered the show we stopped at a booth displaying concrete borders. The man there began his pitch. He explained in great detail how the concrete was seamlessly shaped; showed us a host of patterns and colors; and had us look at countless photos of jobs he had completed. He then proceeded to discuss several price and warranty options. After ten minutes of this I said to my wife, “I had no idea this would be so difficult, we probably need to think this over and check with other vendors.”
For all of his good intentions this man was his own undoing. He created price pressure, doubt, and competition where none previously existed. I have a fast buying cycle. All the guy needed to do was get to my issue – a neater yard – and help me see how his product would resolve my problem. If he had done that I would probably have his borders in my yard now instead of having paid a gardener to put new RR ties in.
Remember this rule when meeting with potential customers at your trade show booth: The essence of selling is not telling; it is asking questions and sharing third party stories that will help your prospect self-discover his own need for your product or service. People do not buy features and benefits; they buy solutions to problems. If you want to stand out from your competition, stop overloading prospects with information and brochures. Start asking thought and emotion provoking questions.
Here’s an example:
You: Thanks for stopping by our booth today. You’re probably not in the market for concrete edging are you?
Pros.: Actually I am.
You: What has you interested?
Pros.: We would like a neater yard.
You: Tell me more about that.
Pros: We have old RR ties for borders; they’re rotting and they’re an eyesore.
You: Is yard appearance important to you?
Pros: Yes, but even more important is having something that is maintenance free and lasts a long time.
With just a few simple questions you can learn a lot about your prospect’s true buying motives. Once you’ve identified the real problem, just ask, “How do you see my product taking care of this situation?” That will get the prospect to sell himself on why he should buy from you.
Helping your prospect to describe his current situation and to paint the picture of the solution is much more effective than a long list of features and benefits you offer. If you want to win over prospects at your booth, ask questions. Let them talk about their own situation. That’s much more interesting to them than listening to you talk about yours.