By Matt LaClear

No matter what business you are in, chances are there is an industry-specific trade show just for you. These trade shows can be a great way to prospect, network, find new clients, and potentially grow your business.

However, just like everything in business, there are right ways, and there are wrong ways to do things. Sometimes, even if you are doing everything else right, one seemingly small bad habit can cause big problems.

In this post, we are going to talk about five bad habits in the trade show industry. Are you guilty of any of these? Better find out. It can be the difference between a successful trade show and throwing a bunch of money down the drain.

1. Ambushing Attendees

When you are sitting or standing in your booth, it can be easy to slip into what I call “hunter mode” — you see all these people milling about, and your brain starts to see them all as potential clients or customers, A.K.A. potential money. Suddenly, you are willing to do just about anything to get a conversation going.

Don’t let this happen to you!

If someone is visiting at another booth, the last thing you want to do is go over and strike up a conversation that they do not necessarily want to have. Not only does this start things out on the wrong foot with your potential client or customer, but it also will not score any points with the people in booths around you.

Let the attendees come to you. If you have done your job on the booth and set-up, if you have a product or solution that they need, they will.

2. Bad-Mouthing Your Competitors

We all remember that person or group of people in high school who never had a good thing to say about anyone else. They were not fun to be around and anytime you were not around them, it made you wonder what they might be saying behind your back.

Low self-esteem gives you two options — either build yourself up or tear other people down. Criticizing your competitors tells your potential clients or customers that you are not confident in what you have to offer. It tells them that your product or service can’t stand on its own.

Not only is bad mouthing your competitors just plain rude, it also puts their name in the mind of your potential client or customer. Every time you mention them is a time your potential customer is not thinking about you.

3. Product Pitching

Prospects do not want you to pitch them. They dislike it, so don’t do it. The best salespeople are the ones who can build relationships over time and then meet a need. Cold product pitching is not effective at trade shows.

Trade shows are a great time to meet people, build new relationships, and begin potential customers on that journey. However, trade shows are not a good place to pitch your products.

4. Pressuring Potential Clients

Your prospects do not like to be pressured either. Say you do find a warm lead at a trade show and they are super interested in your product or service. That’s an awesome thing, but now is not the time to turn on the pressure!

Like I mentioned earlier, you have to understand the mindset of your potential customer or client while they are at the tradeshow.

Which ties right into the next point I want to share with you.

5. All Talking, No Listening

A person who does not ask questions and actively listen to the answer will have a hard time being successful in sales of any sort. At trade shows, it is easy to fall into the bad habit of doing all the talking.

Instead, realize that the people coming to your booth are just that – people! They have needs, wants, and desires. A good businessperson will realize this and then learn all they can to determine how they can best serve this potential client.

Trade shows are a big investment. Usually, there are multiple people taking plane trips, the cost of shipping products, trade show displays, the cost of the hotel, and Exhibition Company fees. To get the best value out of this investment, you need to make sure that you are not unknowingly self-sabotaging your efforts.

By avoiding these five bad habits, you will have a much better chance of having a successful trade show!