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When you're selling at the SHOT Show.

There are hundreds of books, guides and self-appointed expert consultants to explain the "art of selling." From stocks and bonds to franchised hamburgers, every conceivable product and service is chronicled.

Not one of them was authored with the SHOT Show in mind. We're talking a unique beast here. As we migrate in herds between Dallas and Las Vegas each January, the SHOT Show becomes as much a pilgrimage as a trade show.

It is, unquestionably, the most important gathering of shooting sports professionals in the country. Because of its concentrated nature, selling your products or services at the SHOT Show requires specific skills.

To successfully represent your company you must have a fine product, attractive pricing, dependable delivery channels and a keen sense of timing.

Remember, you are pitted against every exhibitor on the floor, not Just your direct competitors. With the exception of the appointments you have made in advance, your next customer is roaming the hall with no exact agenda in mind. He or she may not even know they are in the market for your product line until they walk up to your booth.

Here is where your communication skills can often mean the difference between a future sale and a possible long-term business relationship or a blown opportunity.

What are you going to say after your greeting? Try asking questions. The attendee will be delighted if you express a sincere interest in his business. We all secretly feel our own challenges are demanding and relish the opportunity to discuss our expertise in problem solving

Listening is great salesmanship. It is intelligence and information gathering in its least threatening form Even in a noisy, distracting convention hall, a salesperson's individual expression of interest in a potential customer's business is a valuable bridge to selling.

Discover the attendees' needs and the door swings wide open. He may be searching for knives, handgun grips and shotgun shells, but your line of hunting rifles becomes more attractive after he learns about your company's innovative dealer program.

The time factor may prohibit a complete discussion, so exchange business cards when your conversation concludes. Make a few quick notes on the back. Your memory will be deep fried by Sunday afternoon. The notes will jog your recall and give you the information necessary to compose an effective follow up letter or telephone call.

Certainly every contact will not be fruitful. But your ability to identify the attendee's interests and the needs of his business will maximize your salesmanship at the SHOT Show. It's a demanding battle field, especially when waves of prospective customers are racing past your booth to get to the Playboy bunny autographing pin-up photographs.

The competition for customers is fierce, but you have the ultimate two-pronged weapon - enthusiasm for and knowledge of your product line and the insight to match your product line with the customer's individual requirements. Consider the following scene, which will happen in some variation on the floor in Dallas. The attendee stops to view a new video on dressing game in the field. The exhibitor greets him and begins the discussion: Exhibitor: "The idea for this video came from one of our retailers in Colorado. Let's watch the rest of it."

Customer: "That was really excellent. What's your dealer cost?"

Exhibitor: "Thanks, we've had a lot of compliments. We test-marketed it in 20 selected retailers this fall and the sales were hot. Here's the brochure and dealer price list. Are you interested in selling videos in your store."

Customer: "I'd love to, but I'm really in the gun business."

Exhibitor: "So were the 20 retailers who test-marketed the videos. Not only did they sell well, but their customers came back to buy other tapes. The retailers loved the extra foot-traffic. Are you looking for something to attract faster return business?"

Customer: "Exactly. We've got a real loyal following, but we'd like to see them in our store more often."

Exhibitor: "That's the beauty of these tapes. They have a commercial at the end encouraging the viewer to buy the three companion tapes on gun maintenance, reloading and scents and lures. One of our dealers called it the outdoor tape-of-the-month club. He said it was rare for a customer to come in and just buy a tape. They always left with ammunition or other items."

Customer: That sounds good, but I don't want to have to blow more time training my sales people."

Exhibitor: "We've got you covered there. Our dealer program includes an instructional tape and booklet. The video has a brief explanation of how to sell tapes successfully and then shows a salesman dealing with a first-time customer. It's a very realistic role-playing situation."

Customer: "I see here that this display comes with the first dealer order."

Exhibitor: "Sure does and at no extra cost. It's actually the packing crate with a special die cut to pop up and double as a counter display. It's colorful and has enough eye-appeal and information on the tapes to attract a lot of purchases without assistance from sales people."

Customer: "I'll talk with my partner about this, if I can find him around here."

Exhibitor: "When you find your partner, bring him back and we can chat further. Here's my card. It has my room phone number on the back at the hotel if you'd rather call me later. Leave your card with me and I'll call you when you get home if you don't have the chance to come back again. I'd love to see you selling our videos in your store."

A well-structured sales presentation just transformed a reluctant trade show attendee into a potential customer. The exhibitor was able to hit on the chief benefits and attraction of selling videos without first discussing price. In fact, he presented the attendee with the price list and then immediately returned to discussing the prospective customer's needs.

While the attendee was primarily tuned into selling firearms, the thought of existing customers returning to his store with more regularity was exciting.

The exhibitor skillfully concluded each portion of his presentation with a question, one that would make a court room lawyer proud. One of the first rules of law is to only ask a question if you already know the answer.

Of course the attendee wants more foot traffic. Sure he loves the low-maintenance aspect of the videos "selling themselves" and the instructional tape and booklet for added assistance

The entire scenario above lasted only a few minutes. Proper orchestration by the exhibitor built a firm foundation for a sale. Repeated dozens of times over the course of the SHOT Show and the shrewd exhibitor will have a bushel of sales prospects to go along with the obligatory sore feet , aching back and sandpaper voice.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show
Author:Fallon, Denny
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Dec 1, 1990
Previous Article:When you're buying at the SHOT Show.
Next Article:The legislative year in review.

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