And You Call Yourself A Sales Professional?

Every year I attend about 200 or more exhibitions and trade fares around the world and it doesn’t matter what country I am in or what market the exhibition is representing I always meet with the same types of exhibitor.

The Passive Exhibitor

The Passive Exhibitor is very polite and is always smiling. They are proud to promote their company at the annual exhibition. But as they have been exhibiting for several years they feel uncomfortable to ask their manager for advice on how to man the exhibition stand or what to do on the day.

Instead they perch themselves on the corner of the exhibition stand and ask passersby if they would like a brochure or leaflet.

They work hard and at the end of each day they inform their team leader that they have been really busy and given out hundreds of expensive brochures”!

As far as they are concerned an exhibition booth visitor that smiles back is as good as a sale! If they receive a really big smile they might even throw in a tentative one liner – “Good morning are you enjoying the show?” or “Have you just arrived at the exhibition?”

What really throws them is when the visitor responds with a question about their company, product or service. In their mind that’s an answer for the Sales Director and he’s already talking to somebody so “Do you want a brochure?” is as far as they can take the conversation.

Exhibition Prisoner

We have all seen the Exhibition Prisoner. You know the one, that person that doesn’t want to be there and can’t wait to get out. They don’t value exhibiting. They knew even before the show started that the leads would be rubbish and the attendance poor.

They would sooner spend their time on their mobile phone than talk to prospects and don’t even think about approaching them when it’s lunch time, can’t you see that they are eating!
They’ve been to loads of exhibitions and it’s always the same every year.

They spend more time talking to other exhibitors about how slow the show traffic is than they do telling visitors about their products and services. The only good thing as far as they are concerned is that they can go home early to avoid the traffic!

The Exhibitor Expert

The Exhibitor Expert understands his objectives and knows how to engage with any visitor at any level. Confident in his own ability and social skills he uses positive body language to encourage visitors to enter into conversation and engagement. This allows him to establish potential prospect quickly and effectively ensuring maximum use of time. The Exhibition Expert’s primary purpose is to establish where the visitor is in the buying cycle. This will allow him to agree any follow up action after the event.

Carefully and accurately recording the visitor’s details he will make meticulous notes so that it is clear to see what the visitor was interested in and what further action is required. Before the visitor leaves the exhibition stand he will shake their hand and verbally confirm the agreed action by saying something like “Thanks for taking the time to visit our stand today. I am confident that we will be able to help you with your requirement and I look forward to discussing this project further next week”.

We all have fewer customers with smaller budgets to spend, so if you are thinking about exhibiting please consider the basic principles of face to face selling. After all unlike a “Market stall” where we “pile um high and sell um cheap” your exhibition visitors have gone to a great deal of trouble and expense to come and visit you!

What sort of exhibitor are you?

A series of training programs are available from MTD Sales Training. For more information please contact

Tailored courses can be designed to suit any level of competence from the first time exhibitor right through to the seasoned professional who exhibits on the international circuit.

To keep up with News and Views on exhibiting follow my blog:

or visit

This is a guest blog by Peter Bowen – C.E.O. of Access Displays Ltd and board member of ESSA – who introduced MTD’s MD Sean McPheat at the recent G50 Conference at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

(Image by Susan VG)




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Sean McPheat

Hi! I'm the founder and Managing Director of MTD Sales Training - we offer sales training solutions for companies both large and small. I'm blessed to work with 25 of the most talented trainers in the UK....well, I did recruit them! 😉 Today, we've delivered training in over 23 countries to over 3,500 different organisations and 100,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

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2 thoughts on “And You Call Yourself A Sales Professional?”

  1. So true! One other thing I would add is to be concise with your prospect. I have been both exhibitor and visitor. Last year, I was able to attend a very large trade show in Las Vegas. We were there for four days and I still didn’t see everything. I distinctly remember a couple of exhibitors who continued giving me their presentation for up to thirty minutes. After about ten minutes, I was ready to move on to the next booth. This left me with a bit of a bad taste for those companies and they were not recommended to my marketing and purchasing team.
    It goes back to knowing what you are selling at the show. Your product? or an appointment to further discuss that product?

  2. How true. I attended a tradeshow yesterday on Long Island. I saw all three types. One I wanted to scream at had three large reps standing in front of the table blocking the entire view. They were just yacking away with each other as I bent around and tried to see what they were promoting. They wouldn’t budge. I gave up and moved on. What a waste of their employer’s time and money.

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