The expression “in the driver seat” originated with car salesmen who discovered the value of putting their customers in control of the vehicle. These salesmen discovered that potential customers were much more likely to close the deal quickly when they were allowed to experience the car to the fullest extent. The experience of being behind the wheel of a car is more powerful for the potential customer than anything a car salesman can say.
If a sense of control is important to creating confidence in a person who is looking to purchase a vehicle, how can we apply this principle to the trade show environment? The answer to this question depends on the type of products and/or services you are selling, but one fact remains consistent: You need your potential customers to experience your product first hand. Simply describing it to them or providing information about your product will not be as effective as putting the product in their hands and under their control.
If you sell software or web-based computer applications, allow your customers to use the full version of your product at demo stations within your booth. By letting them experience the interface of your product first hand, they are much more likely to make a purchasing decision on the spot. Even the most effective brochure or sales pitch will leave the potential client with questions and doubts.
If you sell physical products (such as machines, gadgets, tools, or equipment), allow your potential customers to hold the product in their hand. If possible, allow them to use the product in an application similar to the way they would use the product in the real world. The tactile sensation of handling your product and using it in a practical application will reinforce a purchasing decision in your customer’s mind.
Trade shows are so successful because they afford companies the opportunity to meet their customers and potential customers face to face. If you only provide brochures, sales pitches, and branding material, you are not taking full advantage of the face to face interaction. You can send your customers brochures, sales pitches, and branding material by email, so why do that in person? The best way to take advantage of direct marketing is to put your products in the hands of your potential clients. You will be amazed with the results.