Evaluate who’s going to be at a particular event, and what
message you need to deliver.
There are many instances when we invest our time, talent and
money in attracting potential customers outside of our showroom.
Common examples of this, of course, include home shows, mall
displays, designer’s showhouses, and the like.
I believe that most kitchen and bath sales professionals don’t
take advantage of such “extended-showroom” sales opportunities. In
this column, I’ll detail an approach that will enable you to make
the most of those selling situations.
First off, ask yourself why your company considers a home show
or other extended showroom opportunity. It’s not enough to answer
that you’re there simply because your competitor is. It also
doesn’t make sense if you decide to participate in an event just
because someone sold you on the idea.
In contrast, what does make sense would be if you made a
thorough evaluation, and it was determined, for example, that your
customer profile was identical to the prime audience of expected
However, even knowing that your best prospects will be at a
particular event still isn’t enough to make the event a success.
You must also have a message to deliver.
All too often, a kitchen and bath design firm signs up for, say,
a home show, and then assigns some salespeople to work the show
even though the salespeople are clueless about the company’s
Evaluate who’s going to be at a particular event, and what
message you need to deliver! If you don’t address these two key
components of selling in an extended-showroom situation, you’re
throwing your time, energy and money to the wind.
Deliver a message
Once you decide to participate in an event, and your message is
clear to everyone in your organization, you must decide how you’ll
present your message, and the tools you’ll need to do the job
It now becomes important to create a way to measure your success
or failure in the event. It’s not uncommon for the people working a
home show to have no idea what your goal really is.
Plans should be established at least six to nine months prior to
the event you’re planning to be part of. It could be that you need
a factory display that needs to be ordered. Similarly, you may want
to plan on a kitchen or bathroom display that will find a permanent
home in your showroom once the event is over.
Two to three months before a home show, final plans should be
developed, and the people who will work the show should be involved
in those final details. Without this sort of timetable and
involvement, you’ll either be too harried at the last moment, or
will make poor decisions that don’t enable you to put your best
Objectives to be considered could include the following:
- Promoting existing products.
- Introducing a new product or new feature on an existing
- Gathering the names of people expecting to remodel their homes
or buy new ones in the next year.
- Finding prospects who are in the process of obtaining
information for an immediate project, and getting an in-showroom
appointment with them.
- Demonstrating the benefits to be gained from the ownership of
your products and services.
- Showing a well-designed display promoting your creativity,
product knowledge, design skills or ability to address a certain
homeowner need or niche.
- Offering a special sale price or other incentive to encourage a
purchase decision at the event itself.
This list should be expanded and shaped to fit your business and
the event you wish to participate in. The point, however, is that
without specific objectives you won’t have a measuring device and
won’t know if you’ve succeeded or not.
I suggest that everyone who’ll be working the event agrees, in
advance, on how results will be measured, and each person then
takes responsibility for creating their share of the success.
You objectives at a home show should not be simply to count the
number of people who attend and stop by your booth. Volume is not
the name of this game. Quality leads and interactions are. If you
plan and execute correctly, you don’t need many new prospects to
make a home show a terrific success. If you plan right and work the
event correctly, you can have a great show even if overall
attendance at the event is poor.
Plan for success
What follows is a set of
guidelines for making the most of extended-showroom sales
- Be enthusiastic. I’ve always said, you keep your enthusiasm by
giving it away. People are attracted to those who are genuinely
enthused about what they’re doing.
- Have your signage large and professionally made. Too many
booths at home shows lack strong identification. Yours will stand
out if your signage is well done.
- Flood your signage and booth with plenty of light. People,
inevitably, are drawn to this and will remember your name.
- Don’t just sit in a booth and wait for people to come to you.
Unless chairs are part of your display, don’t have any in your
booth. And, if you do, don’t sit on them. Aisle-walkers will pass
- Wear name tags and dress so that show attendees will know
you’re an exhibitor.n’ Have business cards with you.
- Make notes about your leads so you can follow up on them
promptly and appropriately.n’ Don’t have food or drinks in
- Keep the front of your display open and inviting to
- Have a number of inviting statements ready to encourage people
to take particular note of what you’re offering. Examples: “Please
step in and take a look at . . .”; “Watch what happens when I sand
this top”; “Let me show you . . .”; “Here is something really new
in baths”; “Slip off your shoes and feel this wonderful heated tile
Lastly, be sure to employ the common-sense rule of making sure
your exhibit is complete and clean, and that everything is in its
It’s likely that you’re already aware of most of the things I’ve
pointed out in this column. However, by doing them, I can assure
you, you’ll make the most of your selling opportunities and have
more fun. You’ll also know if an event has been a success or not.
That’s probably more than your competition will be able to say.
As a by product of doing things right, I think you’ll find that
your selling time away from your showroom goes more quickly, and
that your feet will never get tired.