Trade Show Etiquette: When You’re the Customer

shaking hands at trade show

As retailers we all have our favorite customers. They may be regulars with whom you are on a first name basis, or patrons who only stopped in a few times. Their interactions are memorable. These customers tend to be brand advocates and promoters.

As retailers we also have another select group of customers. Maybe they were having a bad day, or something unexpected occurred. For whatever reason, they stand out in your mind as being unpleasant or memorable in an unflattering way. 

Now, think about times when your store is having a promotion, sale, or event. Which group of customers are you going to target to take advantage of the offer? Also, consider if there were a miscommunication or error, which customer are you more likely to bend the rules for, or put in the extra mile?

As we enter the busy trade show season, all retailers will be looking to build relationships with new suppliers and secure the best deals from existing connections. Just like you are more inclined to go above and beyond for your best customers, suppliers will want to give the best deals to their standout retailer customers.

To make a positive impression at trade shows, respect exhibitor’s time. 

Don’t: Take samples and leave. Unless it’s the last day of the show and vendors are trying to get rid of them, but they will let you know up front. Taking samples when you knowingly have no interest in their products is not only rude, it also takes time and resources away from buyers who are truly interested.

Don’t: Be fearful of skipping booths you genuinely aren’t interested in. Everyone’s time is precious. If you know you don’t want what a particular booth is offering, it’s better to not waste the exhibitor’s time.

Don’t: Try to squeeze in when a booth is jam-packed. Chances are you won’t connect with the person you really want to talk to. Chances are those exhibitors are also overwhelmed. It is likely they won’t remember you after what little conversation you do have. Circle the floor and visit that booth later when you can have their full attention. 

Do: Let them approach you. If you are lingering around a booth and looking at the products, a salesperson will strike up a conversation. 

Do: Cut to the chase. Don’t be afraid to let the salesperson know that you are on a time constraint, or that you are okay moving right to the pitch. Often, exhibitors will ease into their presentation to make sure you are comfortable and listening. If you already know you want to hear what they have to say, don’t hesitate to tell them that.

Just as your favorite store patrons are direct with you, take the time and effort to be similarly polite and direct with suppliers, and you may shortly find yourself on their favorite customer list.