The Ultimate Guide to Navigating the Trade Show

imats-450959_1280If you are a member of a sales team or if you happen to be attending an industry event or a conference, you are bound to find yourself in the exhibit hall, a.k.a. expo hall of a trade show.

So what should you do there? Keep calm and read on.

Sales Teams at Trade Shows

1. The expo hall is not a place where you can meet your sales quota unless you are selling candy to children. So relax and try to help whoever stops by your booth. Learn about the visitor and talk about relevant services or capabilities. If you can, please don’t go on and on about how great your company is no matter what your corporate communications team has led you to believe.

2. If you are not the social type, at least pretend to smile at people walking by. Please don’t stare at your smartphone or open your laptop. This is a place to meet people and create awareness about your product or brand or may be even find an interested buyer (if you are lucky).

3. When a prospective buyer or visitor to your stall is holding a glass of wine, take whatever she says with a pinch of salt. Some people are nice to you when they have a buzz going.

4. Develop skills to read body language and look for cues to identify people only interested in collecting giveaways. You will see that they are carrying loads of stuff and are not making eye contact with you as they are busy scanning for what you have to give. Please let them have whatever they want (for themselves, their family members and mother-in-law). Believe me, that’s the best way to save your time and energy. Don’t insist on scanning the badge if the visitor has not even bothered to ask what you do. You will be only diluting your leads list.

4. If you would like to learn about your competition, please walk up to their stall and talk to them when nobody is around. Don’t go around taking photographs without making eye contact with the people in the stall or without asking them. While you may want to prove to your boss that you did your job, you will come across as a creep. Who knows, you may somebody want to work for your competition.

Visitors at Trade Shows

1. It doesn’t matter if you are looking to buy products / services or just want to find out what the vendors are up to, people manning the stalls are people and they don’t bite. A smile or a nod, if you happen to make eye contact, will be appreciated.

2. If you are visiting the expo to sell your products or services to the exhibitors, please be considerate to the vendor by not taking up too much of their time. Remember, they are paying ridiculous rates for the privilege of setting up the booth and the chair you may occupy at the booth costs over $150 a day on rent.

3. Please be aware that vendors want to believe that you will buy their product or service. So expect a bunch of follow-up calls or emails after the event. It’s the price you pay for the information you wanted.


In summary, the best approach to navigating the expo hall would be to walk in with a genuine curiosity to learn from others, share information, and strike relationships, if possible.

Srinivas Krishnaswamy


I love to read and share thoughts on technology, enterprise learning, mobile and any thing cool that impacts enterprises.

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Posted in Events, Trade Show

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