There’s no business like home-show business

by lbanyay@solagroup.com

QR: Joe, you and your company strongly advocate the use of shows and events; however, your methods suggest that companies do not use salespeople to man their booth or exhibit.

Joe: Correct, we strongly oppose the use of sales reps. They will contaminate the process – – Use Promoters instead. The desire of a sales person is to find a person to sell to today or tomorrow. They are hunters on the look for ready buyers. People who are in the market today. Those who walk into your booth and ask, “How much are your _______?” OR “How much would an average job cost?” Quickly the rep discovers they are getting prices and his enthusiasm heightens. Usually these will be the only leads a sales person will work hard to develop and as counter intuitive as it may seem, they won’t really do well with them. The lack of effective scripting with value based conversation, which will uncover needs and desires will be missing.

QR: So who do you propose to man the booth?

Joe: We advocate the use of trained, scripted promoters to interact with those visiting the show. Promoters are go getters that are hired and trained for one purpose, talk to everyone with the goal of uncovering problems, points of pain, and making suggestions that will provide relief from the pain. They are not hunters, they are gatherers. When trained properly they will politely attempt to engage with every person that passes by your booth. They will know the 4 – step process of “(1) Interrupt – (2) Engage – (3) Find a Need – (4) Set a Lead.” They will be incentivized based on the number of leads they gather which get issued to reps, based on the hours they work. They will have an opportunity to earn $25 to $50 per hour (which includes incentives) because they know that at any given moment only about 3% of the attendees are in the immediate market for the services you are promoting. They also know that anyone with a current or future need based on problems and potential interest, can turn into a great appointment opportunity when aligned with the proper sales culture.

We do not recommend paying promoters a percentage of sales made.

QR: So how do promoters function differently from the salespeople you referred to earlier?

Joe: Promoters need to work in teams. We never permit the booth to be manned by one person alone. Most companies don’t do well at shows because they don’t have enough well trained staff at the show or event. When a promoter is talking to one person or a couple, dozens may walk by. During peak hours you will likely need no less than four and never less than two in “off hours” in your booth. We suggest that there be less concentration on hourly costs and more on management of the promoters to ensure efficient exposure to and interaction with, those passing the booth. What costs far more than the hourly rate paid to a promoter is the dozens (and more) of lost appointment opportunities as the result of improper staffing.

QR: Your program suggests scripting – not only for basic training but as a continuing methodology – how does that factor in as a requirement for these promoters?

Joe: Anyone who is positioned to interact with others on behalf of their company needs proper scripting. All you have to do is walk the show as a consumer and hear the lame openers being used. Most are, “How ya doing today?” That’s as outdated as a retail salesman in the men’s fancy suit department, working on commission asking, “Can I help you?” The response is mostly “No thanks, just looking.” It doesn’t work in retail and doesn’t work at shows.

The second most common opener, “Enjoying the show?” Do you really want to know how anyone is doing? Do you really want to know how much they are or am not enjoying the show? Try this boldly, “Folks what are the two things you dislike most about your (the product you are promoting)? Followed by, “why is that?” How long has it been that way? – and –  Why haven’t you done anything about it? Did they say you know that right now you could have an expert visit, provide a thorough evaluation of your needs, and share some great ideas all at no cost or obligation to you? Wouldn’t that be helpful along with a price quoted which is guaranteed for 180 days? May I make a suggestion?

Proper scripting, followed by training, followed by coaching will yield the results you’re looking for.

QR: We have observed that all Dave Yoho Associates training seem to involve a system of controlled dialog. 

Joe: You are correct – – Control the conversation. Otherwise Promoters will say too much or too little. After the opening the most important thing to teach, is getting to the polite question, “May I make a suggestion?” “Let’s get an expert out to look at your home (project).”

Our scripts are more than a suggestion. They’re based on hundreds of interviews with those attending shows/events. They’re also based on a formula for speaking which invites the promotor to ask questions and from the responses given they have an effective dialogue to search out “needs” which haven’t been openly expressed. None of this is intended to overpower or devalue the customers buying methods. It is based on an examination of what puts that prospective customer at “ease” and which questions when asked will be interpreted by that attendee as “care language”.

A caution again – none of this intended dialogue is utilized to overpower or pressure a prospect. It is utilized as a means and method of defining how your product or service can meet their needs. Promoters are trained not to sell the customer a product or service rather to sell the value of the visit. 

QR: I assume that many who go to a show might not be going there expressly to look for specific home improvement products or services. In addition, many attendees might be prospects for future responses. How do you define the difference between a now prospect and one that has future potential? 

Joe: You need documentation to control the definition of a lead: Unless everyone in your organization understands and agrees on the definition of a lead, you’re bound for trouble. Try this for definition: any homeowner who has a current or future need for a product or service which you install or deliver is a prospect. A prospect becomes an appointment as soon as they agree to have an expert meet with them at a set time at their home. 

Allowing sufficient time to do a proper analysis/presentation, with all appropriate decision makers present is a condition of a good appointment. All the while understanding that the homeowner does not need to commit to being ready to buy. You can then set up the meeting and receive the valuable information and consultation. So when they say, “We aren’t ready to buy.” Simply say, “No problem” and proceed as if nothing of the sort was said. Great marketing and sales oriented salespeople still get orders from those who make these and similar statements.

QR: Give us some ideas of what kinds of support material is used by the promoter. 

Joe: You need the right tools: Great pictures, lightweight samples, proper dress, appointment reminders. Have your booth open and easy to enter and exit. Move the table with all the literature away from the front and stop blocking the entrance. Create an interesting and inviting space, if you want people to enter your booth. Displays and signage should be spotless, simple, and clear with message and purpose. Never allow chairs, eating, drinking, of talking or texting on cell phones in the booth. Nothing says I’m bored and not interested in you, like walking by a booth and watching a person looking towards their shoes while they text on their phone, eat food, or talk to the person in the next booth. These are epidemic problems at all shows and events. Don’t let your people become a problem because it is your business and it is a costly investment in both time and money.

With a little attention to detail and a lot a proper preparation, you can make home shows and various events a big winner in lead development.

 

Joe Talmon is available for “in person” or “by phone” consultation. He is a senior account executive with Dave Yoho Associates, the industry’s oldest, largest and most successful consulting group.  With over 28 years’ experience with “in-home” sales, sales manager, VP of sales, and as president of one of the largest Midwest home improvement companies.  His experience enabled him to become one of the most successful producers of shows and events.  Beyond the design and scripting elements, his experience with hands on management gives him a unique expertise which will be beneficial to companies large and small. Contact Joe Talmon at daveyoho.com.

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