Trade shows attract a diverse crowd.

As a seller, you’ll want to know how to adjust your tactics to fit each type of trade show goer. Just as you wouldn’t speak to your grandma the way you talk to your buddy, you don’t want to make the mistake of having the same generic approach to all the attendees at a trade show.

Get to know the 5 people you’ll meet at trade shows before you attend your next convention.


The Conversationalist

The conversationalist starts off by appearing vaguely interested in your booth, but quickly turns the conversation into a therapy session.

This is a person who just loves to talk.

Conversationalists don’t need much encouraging to keep on chatting. They can cut into your ROI if you don’t take control of the conversation quickly. Use what they’ve said as leeway to introduce how your product or service can be of benefit to them.

If you can’t find a way to steer the conversation in your favor, then wrap it up by saying, “It was great meeting you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the show.” Hopefully they’ll take the hint and move on.


The Freebie Hunter

A true trade show classic: the freebie hunter.

The freebie hunter is in it to win it. As soon as they approach your booth, their eyes start scanning for giveaways and promotional items. Most freebie hunters will politely respond to your inquires while subtly perusing your assortment of pens, cozies, and other logoed items. Once they take their fill, they’ll excuse themselves and head over to the next booth.

Everyone loves free stuff, so you’ll likely encounter herds of freebie hunters. To combat their onslaught, put the more valuable goodies behind the booth or in a box where probing eyes can’t see and save them for your qualified leads.


The Time Waster

When trade shows feature sessions, seminars, or workshops, then you can bet you’ll come across a few time wasters.

Time wasters are the free floaters you see meandering around the trade show. They’re the ones that walk by with their hands in their pockets and lazily look over your booth before moving on.

Normally time wasters aren’t interested in what you’re selling and will resist your attempts to talk. Their main purpose is to catch the sessions and speakers that piqued their interest, so getting them attracted to your products and services can be challenging.

The best way to engage a time waster is by asking them what session or speaker they came to see. Keep the conversation focused on their interests so they relax and talk freely, then find a way to tie your products or services into the flow of your conversation. Bringing up your products or services halfway through a conversation will feel natural, and you’ll have already formed an advantageous bond with them, so they’ll most likely stick around to hear you out.


The Antagonist

Unless you’re exhibiting at a hole-in-the-wall convention, chances are you’ll come across the trade show antagonist—AKA, your competitor.

Of the 5 people you’ll meet at trade shows, your competitor can be the most intimidating.

When Mr. Rival from three booths down swings by your setup, be confident in what you’re selling and engage in a friendly conversation with him. Use that moment as an opportunity to make connections with other people in your market. You may learn a thing or two from them.

Also, consider browsing the competition’s booth yourself. Pay attention to the way they market themselves, how they push their products or services, and how attendees respond to their tactics. Checking out your competition during the trade show is an easy way to improve your convention finesse.


The Potential Client

Finally—the whole reason for exhibiting at trade shows: the potential client.

Potential clients are the bread and butter of trade shows. You can distinguish them by their attentiveness and intelligent questions.

When a potential client stops by your booth, build a rapport with them, whip out your back-booth freebies, and talk about your products or services with genuine enthusiasm.

Remember to get their contact information before they leave. At the end of the day, add them on LinkedIn and let them know you enjoyed meeting them. You want to leave a lasting impression. Otherwise, you’ll be just another face among the competition.

The End of the Road

Now that you have a better understanding of the 5 people you’ll meet at trade shows, use that knowledge to your advantage.

Most importantly, be confident in your product or service. Consumers will feel your hesitancy if you’re not. The best way to sell your product at trade shows is by believing in the product yourself.