Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kissing Frogs, Finding Princes and Trade Show Success

Kissing frogsA customer new to exhibiting visited our showroom last week. We talked about her goals for the event and some of the ways she could present her message.


We also discussed the basic 4-step process that can work effectively in a smaller environment.... Attract, Engage, Qualify and Action. We also talked about sales being a numbers game, no matter what you are selling. Whoever said you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, had it right. Successfully coming away with qualified leads or sales at a trade show is no different.


With everyone coming back from mental and physical summer vacations, it may be a good time to revisit these steps with everyone involved in the upcoming Fall show season.


Smaller inline booth spaces (10’, 20’ and 30’) don’t allow for a lot of interaction. Following these simple steps can help with effective space utilization and allow you to focus on talking with more attendees. After all, that’s why you’re at the show!


Here is the Reader’s Digest version:


Trade show name tagAttract:  Give your space, no matter the size, an attention-getting quality to it. Entice attendees to pause with an attention-getting image or large video monitor. We could go on and on about different ways to get that attention, but the key is to do something to make it happen.


Engage: Remind exhibit staff to keep their eyes out for attendees who slow down or stop in reaction to your booth. Engaging can be as simple as a greeting or a question.


“Hello. Welcome to Acme Products. Are you familiar with left-handed doodad widgets?”


Kitty“Welcome. I see that our video of two playful kittens has caught your attention. Do you have one at home?”


Engagement is a basic but commonly overlooked step. The point is to test and see if there’s a positive response, and if your visitor opens up about what caught their attention. Continue to engage, asking questions and getting on to the next step.


Qualify: At this point, booth staff needs to find out if this attendee is a qualified prospect or not. Qualified can mean a lot of different things, so determine that ahead of time. Does qualified mean decision-maker, influencer or user, or all three? Is your sales process long or relatively short? Is this show going to have a lot of potential customers, or are you going to have to dig deeper?


Simple questions like “How are you involved in using left-handed doodad widgets?”

or “Have you considered giving a home to a cute, cuddly kitten again?”, can help determine the qualifications and the type of follow up or action required.


Lead qualificationAction: Time to determine what needs to happen next. Are they not qualified according to your pre-determined criteria? It’s time to thank them for stopping, present a business card, piece of  literature or some kind of inexpensive give-away, and move on to the next prospect.


Qualified? Perhaps it’s time to capture their information for appropriate follow up after the event, have them talk to one of your sales engineers about how to make their doodad a right-handed one, or let them hold one of the kittens and call their wife on your cell phone to see if they can bring one home.


On a more serious note, depending on the sales cycle for your product or service, this may also be a good time to set up a time to meet for coffee at the event to talk further, or even make an appointment for a future meeting. Seize the moment.


Prince and PrincessFour simple steps.... Attract, Engage, Qualify and Action. These are the building blocks of a successful show in a smaller space. Put another way....


1) Attract frog.

2) Keep frog from hopping away.

3) Determine if they could be a prince.

4) If they could be, time to pucker up.


If they are a real prince, they will give you a big order for doodads and maybe come back for a kitten.


Have an island space? That’s a whole different fairy tale.


Steve Moskal


Fairy tales







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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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