qualify a prospect

Save Your Breath by Asking an Attendee This One Question

Remember being told as a kid not to talk to strangers? Learn to qualify a prospect instantly with one question so you know who they are.

The trade show exhibit hall is a hectic place

Everyone’s walking at different speeds. A middle-aged woman leads a three-person team as they weave through the aisles. A young professional is stopping at every booth, absorbing as much information as he can. Still, an older gentleman is thoughtfully reading his program in an attempt to find a specific company.

And then there’s you. You’re patiently standing in the exhibit, hoping for that breakthrough client to walk up and hand you their company credit card. In the meantime, attendees are whipping by left and right. Is there a good way to pull them into the booth and strike up a conversation?

Yes, there is. But first, let’s identify the real challenge. Let’s say 1,000 out of 5,000 show attendees make up your target audience. You’re limited by two things: time and staff. On average, trade show attendees spend 9.5 hours in the exhibit hall. So, your ability to reach the maximum number of prospects is determined by how many booth staff you bring and how well they can qualify a prospect.

What does “qualifying a prospect” mean?  

A prospect is someone who uses the kind of products or services that you offer but has never heard of you. A lead is someone interested in your offerings, knows who you are, and wants to buy.

When qualifying someone, you’re determining whether they are part of your target audience or not. The faster you can qualify someone at a trade show, the better your chances of avoiding a “tire kicker” who monopolizes your precious time.  

The one qualifying question to know

The Trade Group has been to many shows in its 35+ years as an exhibit house. And through many trials and testing, we’ve found that this question is the most helpful. Around here, it even has a name: Old Reliable.  

At your next show, try asking someone approaching your booth or walking by this question.  

“What are you looking for today?”  

Qualifying a prospect
An exhibitor talks with a prospect at Bitcoin 2022 in Miami, FL.

That’s it. That’s the magical phrase. It’s open-ended, meaning it can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. When the prospect answers this question, you should be able to determine if

  1. They are a part of your target audience  
  2. Are currently looking for the kinds of products and services you offer
  3. You need to engage them further or disengage 

Additionally, if they are part of your target audience, the next step is to rank them as a lead.

We suggest ranking leads based on timeframes. For example, an “A” lead is someone interested in your products and has an immediate need. A “B” lead would be someone who is researching options and planning on purchasing in the next 3-6 months. A “C” lead is someone who doesn’t have a need but is interested in your products.

If someone is looking for products entirely unrelated to yours, kindly help them out by pointing them in the right direction on the show floor. The goal is not to waste your (or someone else’s) time.

Tulip Cooking Casestudy
Tulip Cooking exhibiting at the 2023 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show.

Design an exhibit that attracts leads

Part of qualifying begins before the show starts. Do you know who your target audience is? Does your booth clearly tell who you are and what you do? Booth design, from the graphics to the copy, should clearly communicate you’re unique value and product offerings.

Before you settle on a design, put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. If they are actively looking for your kind of products and services, will they instantly know what your products and services are with a glance?  

Since 1986, The Trade Group has been helping companies stand out on the show floor with superior messaging. If you want to enlarge your presence at your next show and attract more leads, contact one of our design experts below.

The Trade Group is a full-service trade show and event marketing company. We will work with you to create an exhibit that brings in leads and helps you achieve your business goals. Contact us here or give us a call at 972-734-8585. 

Discover more Blogs