Tradeshow Tonic

Getting Rid Of Time Suckers In Your Trade Show Booths

Published on Sep 3, 2013 2:15:00 PM

trade show booth staff time suck

We’ve all been there; we’ve all had to deal with a visitor at our trade show exhibits who can’t seem to understand that time is money for bothof us. They seem content to stand in your booth and waste precious minutes chatting about the weather, asking pointless questions or simply “shooting the breeze” with you while qualified leads are slipping away.  Disengaging form these time suckers can be difficult because we want to be polite. After all, today’s time sucker could be tomorrow’s decision maker.  So how do you successfully disengage without offending them? You remain calm, professional and polite and keep these tips in mind:

Be Brief And Be Honest

By honest we don’t mean saying, “I’m sorry but you’ve been wasting my time and I have more important people to talk to.”  Remember, no matter how annoying a time sucker is, he or she could be next year’s best buyer or they wouldn’t be attending industry trade show booths. After you’ve determined that someone isn’t in the market to buy this year (or at all), let them know that you know where they stand. Politely tell them that it’s clear your company isn’t a good fit with their needs.  You might say, “I’m sorry we don’t have a product that can help you today,” or “It doesn’t seem like we’re a good fit,” or something similar.  The key is to continue smiling, shake their hand and whenever possible give them a small giveaway item along with your business card, just in case they know someone who might be interested.

Make Sure Qualified Leads Are Followed Up With

Occasionally you engage someone who is a qualified lead but who doesn’t have the authority or inclination to make a purchase or commit to a contract at trade show exhibits.  In this case, you may want to spend a few moments (no more than 2-4 minutes) determining what they will need and how soon they will need it.  From there, you can give them your card and a giveaway item and let them know that you’ll be following up with them in the future in order to discuss their needs more fully.  Tell them that you’ll do some additional research into their specific needs in the meantime so that they don’t feel like you’re pushing them aside.  Then make sure you actually do that research and contact them at the appropriate time.  If the lead seems reluctant to leave, schedule a few moments to sit down with them over drinks or breakfast sometime in the near future, and be sure to give them some literature to review before your meeting.

Use Your Body Language Appropriately To Keep Things Moving At Trade Show Exhibits

Making eye contact, a firm handshake and avoiding crossed arms are all common body language tactics to make sure you seem approachable and open, but what happens if you want to close down a conversation politely?  First, be sure to give them a firm handshake while thanking them for visiting your trade show exhibits, then tell them you hope to talk to them again in the future.  Most visitors will recognize that you’re ready to move on to another potential lead and will disengage.  A few persistent individuals, however, may need to be shut down a bit more forcefully.  If you still can’t get them out of your trade show area, take a few steps back so that you are physically distancing yourself from them.

Moving On To The Next Visitor

If there are others waiting to talk to you, a simple nod in their direction will let them know that you’re aware of their presence and will be with them soon.  This will encourage them to stay while discouraging time suckers who often forget that there are lots of others who would like the opportunity to talk to you.  It will be difficult for them to continue monopolizing you without seeming to be rude to others.

It takes some finesse to discretely and politely disengage from visitors at trade show exhibits who aren’t good leads, but with practice you’ll soon be able to identify and break away from time suckers without offending potential future customers.

Learn other ways to increase your booth staff effectiveness.  Click here to request your free copy of the 48-page Booth Staffing Guidebook, filled with insightful articles, worksheets, and checklists.

About the Author: Eric has been the President at Skyline South Florida for over 10 years. Skyline South Florida produces a variety of exhibits ranging from small banner stands to large island exhibit environments. They service the entire South Florida area, including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach & the Caribbean. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in Miami, please visit

Topics: trade show booths, Trade show booth staffing, Lead generation, Lead Managemnt

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