The road to success at trade shows

Sept. 28, 2023
Whether the show you’re attending is big or small, try using these five tips to make the most out of your trip.

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Has anyone else started a countdown? The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) shows are coming up quick. Anyone who has attended one or both of these shows in the past knows that they are some of the biggest shows put on by the industry. Now, regardless of whether you attend every year, every other year, are planning to attend for your first time, or would rather just stick to the smaller industry shows, you’re going to want to be prepared. Trade shows can seem overwhelming, but if you go in with a plan, I guarantee you’ll come out having learned something new and maybe even with a few sales under your belt. Check out these five tips from one of Alan Sipe's previous Go Sell Something articles. for making the most out of attending a trade show.

1. Let your customers know about upcoming events

Not only does this let them know you may not be stopping by that week, but it also provides them with the opportunity to ask any questions you may not have the answers to. At the show, you can ask the manufacturers directly about any products you or your customers may have questions about. Try sending out an email or two and/or a social media post to inform your customers and collect their queries.

2. Plan ahead

Though you may have a list of questions from your customers, what about you? Have you started looking at new product releases for the show and how those tools might fit into your current inventory? Or how about the tools you already stock – try to create a list of products that you have questions about or that you have a hard time selling. The manufacturers are there to show you the best ways to demo their products and how to handle any objections that come your way.

Click here for some questions to consider before attending a trade show.

3. Empty your truck

One of the main reasons for a mobile tool distributor to attend a trade show is for the deals, so before you go try to downsize some of your inventory to create space for new products on your truck. This way if you find an amazing deal on a product that your customers have been talking about non-stop you won’t have to pass it up due to a shortage of storage space.

4. Make sales from the show floor

Don’t be afraid to give one or a few of your customers a call from the show floor if you see something you think they’d be interested in — even sending off a quick text will do. This is an especially good practice to have with larger tools or equipment that you wouldn’t typically stock on your truck.

5. Attend the training sessions

Even if you think you know it all because you sell product ‘X’ really well, there’s always something new you can learn from attending one of these sessions. Don’t get stuck in your old ways of selling a product. As discussed in this month's Go Sell Something article, having a few different approaches to selling the same tool could be the difference between making the sale or that product forever sitting on your truck.

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