In most cities from the first half of January through the end of March is home show season. It’s that time of year when home improvement companies, home service companies, and other assorted businesses promote their products and services to an audience that, at that time of year, would have the time and opportunity to spend a few hours walking the aisles of a home show. After all, the weather is cold and dreary outside and it won’t be long before everyone walks outside and makes note of what needs to be fixed or replaced on their homes.
As part of my profession, it’s important to keep up with what’s going on in the home show realm, so I visit them each time they come around. I’ve been doing that for twenty years now and feel like I’ve seen a lot of really good techniques for selling and a lot of really bad ones too. In talking with business owners after a home show wrapped up I could typically tell based upon their response whether sales were good or not and know how they approached the attendees. It was good, bad, or ugly.
Let’s start with the good. Some businesses get it; they really know how to promote their business to a variety of attendees in which some attendees may have a strong interest and some that may have no interest at all. They know when to approach attendees and know when to pull back the reigns.
Salespeople who show confidence but not arrogance usually have more success in engaging show attendees. By just saying something as simple as “Hi” as attendees walk by and having eye contact can start them off in a positive direction. There’s no need to sell as soon as they open their mouth. If the attendee acknowledges the greeting with a response and eye contact, that’s usually a signal that they are open to a conversation, or willing to listen. If the attendee doesn’t respond and looks away or down at the ground the sales person typically takes that as a cue to move along to the next person. It’s simply reading body language and respecting the signals.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad home show salespersons out there. It ranges from the virtually non-existent to the overly eager salesperson. You’ve seen the non-existent salesperson. They are busy reading a book or staring at their phone trying not to do anything to “bother” anyone unless they are specifically asked by an attendee. The first impression that they give of their business is that they wish they were anywhere else but here. Even worse than the non-existent salesperson is the empty booth. Even after all these years, I’m still amazed at how many booths are unattended during show hours. Why did the business spend all that time, effort, and money to have a booth if there’s no one in it? No staffing equals no sales.
The overly eager salesperson is exactly what you would think. Pushy, loud, and aggressive. I’m sure that their personality isn’t really like that outside of the show, but they feel like they have to make sales and have this strange sense that the home show is akin to a carnival. They completely ignore body language of attendees who are signaling “leave me alone”. Typically it’s a real turn-off to attendees and gives a bad impression of the business. Just think of when that business advertises outside of the show. It’s likely to trigger memories of their pushy and obnoxious home show salespeople. Good luck overcoming that.
And then there’s the ugly. For the most part, these are the booths that are placed on the outer edge of the show. There’s a reason why- the products and services associated with these booths are the “infomercial” types. P.T. Barnum would be proud of these salespeople. They’re the ones with the headset microphones doing a scripted show, or they stand in the aisle and try to get you to hold their product or ask you ridiculous questions such as “What’s your favorite color. We have thousands of colors!” Why would color matter if no one knows what you are offering in the first place? I’ve even heard a makeup booth salesperson ask every female who passed by “Would you like to look pretty?” Ouch! Why didn’t she just say "Hey! You're ugly! We can fix you!".
Take note if you place your business in a home show or public event to offer your products and services. It matters whom you staff your booth with and how they interact with the attendees. Treat attendees with respect and friendliness and you’ll get more positive reactions that will lead you to more customers.
Contributed by Jeff Vice.