How To Sell Nothing At A Tradeshow
While waiting to watch Levi Leipheimer win the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race in Colorado recently, I visited a bike festival to kill some time. I paid my five dollars knowing “some” portion will go to the Livestrong Foundation and proceeded to visit the array of booths. The people staffing the booths may know a great deal about bicycles, but I don’t know where they received their sales and marketing training!
At one booth, I got the low down on an easily removable chain and a tubeless tire sealant. There were no qualifying questions, and no “discovery.” In fact, the two representatives seemed to be competing with each other on how many facts they could spew. I really wanted to stop-them mid-sentence, and initiate a role-play: “Where you from? Do you ride a lot? Mountain or Road? Ever have trouble with tire punctures? Isn’t it a hassle to clean your chain while it’s on the bike?” What made the “pitch” even worse was that there was no close. No “What do you think?” Or, “Here’s a coupon for 10% off for listening to my shtick.” How unfulfilling it would be to tell, and have no idea on whether your effort contributed to actually moving product.
At another booth, a guy was pushing a new energy drink. I heard it was full of B vitamins, didn’t have caffeine, and had low calories. Features. Lots of them! Who cares? For a guy like me, what’s the benefit? Am I going to go ten percent faster; or experience less fatigue on a long ride? The pitch was also made without qualifying me, but there was actually a trial close: “Would you like to try some?” I said, “Sure – I’ll try a sample.” What did I have to lose, I thought. The reply floored me: “We don’t have samples – we’re only selling product today.” What?! They are definitely not the market leader, and they’re looking to gain share from a target audience (a captive one at that), and the leadership of this company didn’t have the foresight to provide samples to induce people to try something new, or switch from a competitor? Why didn’t the rep feel empowered to just open a can and poor some in cups? I could tell he was embarrassed. If they were looking to sell enough product at the event to justify their expenses, their objective was woefully misguided.Continued on the next page