Falling into a Numbers Trap at Trade Shows ?

Julia O'Connor

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Here’s the Scenario – There is an attentive attendee in front of you. You two have chatted for a couple of minutes and now he says –

o Sounds good. How much is it ?

o What will the maintenance contract cost me ?

o What are your financing options over 3 years?

o What’s the best deal you can give me ?

o What are the dimensions of these three models?

o Can you up the capacity 14% ?

o How many hydraulic spring return actuator for 3200 psig do you have in stock ?


Many folks fluster around if the question is not part of their direct expertise. Maybe you are an engineer but don't know inventory levels or financing details. Maybe you know those answers but not the intricacies of engineering ABCs.

You certainly do not want to look bad, so perhaps you come up with a quick retort or bluff or just lie. You figure maybe he won't remember what you said, or you will have time to get the right info to him after the show. Chances he will. You will not.

On the floor, Numbers may be money, parts identifiers, chemical formulas, shipment documentation, production schedules, or the time to meet for a drink. Numbers float around and it is easy to fall into a Numbers Trap.

TRY THIS QUICK QUIZ. After you take it, read it out loud to your fellow staffers. Allow 15 seconds for an answer.

Q –
EVERYBODY KNOWS that 80% of leads are not followed up. Your company is typical. You want to increase the number of leads you follow up after the next show by 50%. For each 100 new leads, how many more people will you have to contact?

A -
Five more people?
Ten more people?
Twenty more people?
Fifty more people?

Everybody knows that 80% of leads are not followed up. Your company is typical. You want to increase the number of leads you follow up after the next show by 50%. For each 100 leads, how many more people will you have to contact? The answer is:

Ten more people

One of the most critical skills you bring to a trade show is your ability to listen and process information quickly. This question says that everybody knows that 80% of leads are not followed up - but people have difficulty processing quickly what that means in terms of increasing business. This is a simple word problem.

percentage 100% - 80% = 20%
peopletage 100% - 80% = 20

If 80% of leads are not followed up, that means 20% are followed up. So, for every 100 leads, 20 people are contacted. To increase that number by 50%, take 50% (one-half) of 20.

You need to contact 10 more people to contact after the show for each 100 people you consider a lead.   Did you select another answer?

Five more people

is 1/2 of 1/2 of 20.

Twenty more people

This is the number of people you currently contact.

d. Fifty more people

Did you confuse 50 percent with 50 people?

Lessons Learned -

1. We're used to seeing numbers written down, not listening to them and putting them into context quickly. Speak slowly when using numbers.

2. Be careful when throwing around “everybody knows. . . " statements. Unless you can confirm information, it is gossip.

3. Be especially careful when any kind of numbers, percentages and prices are used in conversation. You don't want to have to correct a misunderstanding when the prospect thought you said “50% discount" and you really said, “$50 discount. "

GASP – that 80% nugget has been around for years. More trade show research at the Center for Exposition Research Institute - www.CEIR.org

Julia O'Connor - Speaker, Author, Consultant - writes about practical aspects of trade shows. As president of Trade Show Training, inc, , now celebrating its 10th year, she works with companies in a variety of industries to improve their bottom line and marketing opportunities at trade shows.

Julia is an expert in the psychology of the trade show environment and uses this expertise in sales training and management seminars. Contact her at 804-355-7800 or check the site http://www.TradeShowTraining.com


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