Many of us are questioning the effectiveness of tradeshows in today’s environment. Is it actually worth spending so much money on participating in these shows or would you be better off finding alternative ways to connect with clients? Our argument is that tradeshows can be every bit as effective as you want them to be – as long as you’re prepared to follow these simple guidelines.

Ask yourself honestly – are you sending the best person to represent your organization? The best person doesn’t necessarily mean your most experienced, most trustworthy, or longest serving staff member. That’s not to say that those qualities aren’t important, but tradeshows aren’t staff incentive trips! They’re supposed to be revenue generating activities so you should expect to get results.

The fact is that more and more serious buyers are criticizing the quality of the hotel representatives they have to deal with at tradeshows. Poor product knowledge, an inability to converse productively, and a general lack of professionalism are some of the key issues being raised. There are too many hotel representatives who simply don’t have what it takes to project the right image at tradeshows, and the consequences are potentially very damaging to your business.

With that in mind, here are five mistakes you must avoid at tradeshows!

1. Relying on glossy brochures
Experienced buyers are not interested in carrying heavy brochures around with them, especially now we’re living in a digital world. Attractive, exciting and relevant presentations are the key to success! Detailed information can be forwarded electronically at the follow-up stage.

2. Not asking the right questions
Even in the digital age, some things never change: sales people still tend to talk more than they listen. Taking the time to properly qualify your buyers will help you present more relevant information and boost your effectiveness. In the old days, sales staff were given a checklist with boxes to tick, but the best sales people can always think beyond those boxes! The dynamics of today’s environment call for more effective ways of qualifying clients at tradeshows.

3. Focusing on smartphones and ignoring opportunities
We are busy people and even though we’re at a tradeshow, the work back at the office doesn’t stop. Smartphones have made us available 24/7, and more and more people prefer texting to talking. For this reason, we are seeing more sellers at tradeshows being busy working on their phones and ignoring the opportunities in front of them at their stands. It is vital to prioritize properly and focus on working the stand, leaving emails for later.

4. Networking with the wrong people
Don’t spend all your valuable time hanging out with friends! A big part of tradeshows is building rapport and finding new connections by networking. It is essential to use every available opportunity to connect and engage – inviting buyers for a quick casual lunch or sharing the bus back to the hotel are just two easy ways to make acquaintances.

5. Eating at the booth
It’s sometimes difficult to find somewhere convenient to have lunch at tradeshows. However, this does not grant you the right to eat at the stand. That’s something that looks very unprofessional in the eyes of buyers. A tradeshow is a business environment, not a canteen. You should look ready for business at all times, especially when you’re working on the stand.

Keep these points in mind next time you attend a tradeshow and you’ll give yourself the best possible chance to make the right impression with the people who matter to your business.