Rules for Negotiating on the Tradeshow Floor
By Susan Friedmann
Negotiation, apparently, is the word of the day. You can't turn on the tv, flip the radio dial, or cruise any of the popular online news sites without running into the concept: it's possible, even probable, that you can save money simply by asking vendors for a lower price. After all, with the pressures of a down economy, people are far more desperate to close the sale, and if that means cutting into the margin, so be it! Better half a bushel, after all, than nothing at all.
What does this mean to exhibitors?
Well, it means a lot of things, but we're going to talk about two of them here.
First: You need to be prepared for attendees who want to negotiate.
You're not the only one being exposed to this media frenzy around the age-old concept of haggling. It has influenced the people coming to the show! However, that means you'll be dealing with people who may be completely new to negotiating, who are clumsy and awkward, overly bold or flat out obnoxious.
Do your booth staffers a favor, and give them a head's up that this is coming. If they've any sales experience at all, this won't be a new experience for them, but the quantity can be unsettling. If you've a novice booth staffer, you'll want to take some time to prep them in the nuances of on the floor negotiating: let them know what they're empowered to do, how much wiggle room they've got, and what your company expectations are.
Make sure that the policy regarding show floor negotiation is well known and understood by every booth staffer.
Second: The relationship is the primary focus of tradeshow exhibiting.
The emphasis on negotiation can easily transform the tradeshow forum into a price-driven arena. This is a mistake! Make sure your team is aware of the value of relationships, and equip them with the tools they need to identify, qualify, and work with prospects. This does mean you'll lose a sale or two: there will always be someone who can low-ball you on price. However, by emphasizing benefits and working on building a mutually beneficial relationship over the long term, you'll be positioning yourself for success - and when the economy bounces back, you'll be ready.
Susan A. Friedmann,CSP, The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, NY, author: "Meeting & Event Planning for Dummies," working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting and tradeshow training. For a free copy of "10 Common Mistakes Exhibitors Make", e-mail: [email protected]; website: www.thetradeshowcoach.com
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