Pay Attention.........there will be a test people!
I recommend having all your ducks in a row before going to a Trade Show. Whether you are walking a show before exhibiting (highly recommended by me and all other expert types) or you are exhibiting, you should KNOW a few things, terms and such:
A buyer is someone that purchases products for a store, a catalog, or a website. You want buyers in your booth, you want buyers to BUY your products. Even if every other vendor at the show loves your booth (which is nice, thank you very much for those of you that came by) you are there to sell. The buyer can be hired by a store, or can be the owner of a store. Buyers from websites are attending trade shows more and more, scouting for new products. Now, this may not end in immediate sales (if you drop ship that is - that is when you ship it to the customer directly, instead of a sales channel carrying an inventory) but it can open doors for you in other ways. At a show I never say no, it is a bad word, go home and research or let them down easily - be nice at the show.
Your Company's Story
What is your story? How did you get your company started? Why do you make those whatcha-ma-callits? What will you and will you NOT divulge to the buyer? How do you explain your product line? Where else is it sold? What makes your product special? This is selling 101 - you are on parade, as much as your product and your booth. Let me tell you something - in the south they can tell a pretty tall tale, spin quite a yarn if you will....this girl from the north could learn a few things from those southern belles. So, get it straight, stick with it and by all means tell the same story, don't get caught in a lie, or a fib, or an exaggerated truth (uh a lie)....they will catch you!
Some companies will have a package they sell to a store. Like an opening package for a Luggage company may consist of 8 purses, 4 wallets, 4 money clips, 10 suit cases and 2 backpacks. An established company may only offer the best sellers or the newest products at any given show. Packages can work if you seeing existing customers and if your products lend themselves to good sales IF they are featured in a large grouping. Also, it works if you know what sells and what does not. My Lil' Buckaroo Name Tiles sell like crazy in Texas..........not so much in say, Maryland. Again, this is information you should take with you to the show, know how these stores should sell your products. Packages do not work when you have 251 (yep that would be our products) different items and if you are introducing a brand new line of products, i.e; coasters, picture frames, door hangers........you get where I am going with this?
What is your minimum order? This is asked as soon as they (buyers) set foot in your booth, or if they just stop and nod at you........What is your minimum order? Some vendors have an opening order at a set price (this is to start working with your company they NEED to spend some $$ to carry your product) and then all re-orders at another price. Large companies with high ticket items may not blink an eye at opening orders starting in the thousands, or in multiples of 4 per product. You want the store to feel comfortable with your set price, and confident they will order again, and again from you. When we attended the ABC Kids Expo we had no minimums - our goal was to pick up as many accounts as possible - so at 35, and then growing to 40 after the show, it was good. However, stores closed, stores never ordered again and some that only purchased a couple items never even put the samples out or ever acknowledged we had an account with them.
You are your product and please do not ever forget it. Do you sell clothes? Should you wear your creations? An apron? Should everyone in the booth dress alike? Should you wear a t-shirt with the company logo on it....wait do you have a logo? You need to think about these things and your first impression the buyers will have of you and your company. At the very least look professional, bring mints and please......smile. The lady that sits in her booth with her face in her hands and scowls as buyers walk by (true story) will not, uh get many people in her booth (and no it was NOT me....it was London........no I am kidding!)
Sales Representatives & Show Rooms
Sales representatives that represent permanent show rooms can and will walk the show looking for new products to sell. They may not let on to this when they walk the show, or who they represent...this is back to being nice to everyone that comes to your booth. They represent your product and company - they are on a commission base, which means you do not pay them UNLESS they sell something. And, yes you do pay them a 15% commission per sale....and they deserve it. They can show your products to stores that may never acknowledge you, or may not even meet with companies with out representation. I see many newbies and in-experienced companies saying no to these sales reps - but they should think of the pay off - I mean are they really going to attend every major show across the country to get stores - that would be two shows a year at Dallas, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta & Chicago. I know from experience they can open doors, I mean throw them WIDE open when they would have been closed to a small company forever!
Bottom line is be nice....I should not need to say this, but it must be said. Be informative and be consistent with everyone who enters your booth. You never know who is going to come into the booth. Treat each one with respect, equally (pst....January Show) you just never know. And trust me on the mints....