Ice Breaker Questions for Trade Shows
With actual human connection going the way of the dinosaur recently, people have to work harder than ever to see (literally!) eye-to-eye. Think of your day to day life. You’re at work and you see people over the top of a computer screen or listen to them as you work on your iPad or device. You’re in a public space and people are just head down, ear buds in, face in phone. You’re in your car at a stoplight, and chances are all the people around you in their cars are on their phones; not that you’d notice, because you’re checking Instagram.
When you’re “high” on technology, and let’s face it, most of us are, you forget to come down to earth where all the other earthlings are. Technology is a bit like a drug, a nice soothing drug that lulls us into blah-dom. The polar opposite of that is stimulating human interaction.
Human interaction feels like hard work. That’s because it’s hard work. When two people interact, they have to manage all of their own thoughts and feelings and interpret all of the other person’s thoughts and feelings. They have to listen. They have to care. They have to set aside prejudices. They have to be patient. No wonder we like Facebook so much. It’s easier to JUST KEEP SCROLLING.
However, in the trade show biz, human interaction is everything. People don’t just want to hear about a company or see a product; they want to connect with someone who can meet their needs. That’s their REAL goal, even if they don’t know it. That is the reason why you are spending a bunch of money and that is exactly the reason why your attendees are coming to visit you. In person, your face and voice and body language carry your message – that you care, that you’re listening, that you want to help, that you can fill their needs. In person, people can feel that you want to help them. In person, people can walk away satisfied with every question answered and with a hope or a reassurance that their problems have been solved. The checkout process on Amazon cannot give them that feeling. YOU can.
So, a primary goal for you at an event should be connecting with people, offering them something they can’t get from their phones, their iPads, their MacBooks. You might not have the speed and efficiency of a device, but you have something better. You have a pulse. And you have a voice. Your goal should be to use your voice to interpret attendees’ digital world with a human warmth that they need and desire, even if they don’t know it.
So the next time you see attendees meandering around with their faces down staring at their phones, don’t assume that posture is communicating, “Leave me alone! Bug off! I want to be left to myself!” Assume it’s an invitation to give them something they need – a human interaction in the way of a conversation.
Conversations are the bridge between your customers’ wants and their satisfaction. Conversations are the way to find out what they need and how your company can help. Conversations are not always easy to launch into, but here are some basic ice-breakers that will connect you in a meaningful way with your prospects.
1. What brings you to the show? This question is an easy chance for general conversation to get started. It will give you basic information about the customer. Maybe they’re just tagging along with someone. Maybe they have a specific need. Either way, that information is pertinent to you.
2. Can I get you some water or a soda or snack? While this may draw people who are not necessarily in your target, it is a small cost to pay if your exhibit is empty; and you are more likely to meet someone interesting by offering a small snack than by just standing around.
3. What have you heard about our company? Our products? These answers will help you determine how well you are known in the marketplace. Also, it might reveal existing attitudes about your brand and give you a chance to enhance, enlighten, or (if they’re negative) correct them.
4. Have you seen our demo? What did you think about it? Again, this gives you an idea of how you’re presenting yourself to your potential audience. It can also spark a conversation toward a purchase if the customer was impressed by the demo. Also, if you don’t have a demo, consider getting one.
5. What needs/problems are you looking to solve here? This is a great question to ask because you are helping the prospect evaluate their actual needs. Once they’ve done that, how much more likely are they going to be to let you help them fill those needs. Also, people are almost always looking to make purchases that either increase productivity or reduce cost. Getting your prospects focused on one will enable you to zero in on the need.
6. What have you seen at the show so far that piques your interest? Encourage your prospects to talk about this, even/especially if they bring up the competition. This will let you know the intention of the buyer and help you frame your competitive advantages in the best light.
7. What are you looking to learn by attending? The prospects might not even know what their vision for attending IS, so this question will help them hone in on what they’re seeking. It might also reveal road blocks they haven’t looked at yet.
8. Have you signed up for our giveaway/raffle? Make sure you’ve qualified prospects when you offer this if you’re on a budget.
9. What did you think about the keynote speaker? Listening to the answers to this question will reveal what the interests of the prospect are, what they like, what kinds of people they’re drawn to. Pay attention here!
10. Do you want to sit down for a minute? Use this question only with qualified prospects. You want to encourage buyers to linger, but you don’t want to encourage people to fill up your booth if they have no intentions with your company.
The old adage, “They don’t care what you know until they know you care,” is 100% true in business. The first step in business is to build a relationship with people, and the first step in relationship-building is making a connection, and the first step in making a connection is having a conversation. It definitely takes more effort than scanning a badge, but it’s infinitely more rewarding in every way.