Attending Shows as Part of Direct Sales

By Belinda Ellsworth

Trade shows are amazing opportunities for you to gain clients that you might not have encountered from other areas of your direct selling business. They are great ways to broaden your audience and obtain new leads for sales, booking, and recruiting.

There are many different types of shows to get involved with — everything from large events like national women’s shows that bring in thousands of people, to smaller community events. Both types of event have their advantages and disadvantages.

Large trade shows

The main advantage of large trade shows is seeing more people. Lots more people. Disadvantages include increased cost, longer time commitment, and development of leads that may not be strong. Large events can be a great way to meet lots of new people at one time. Because of the cost and time commitment, these types of events are great to involve your team members so that you can all share the costs.

Smaller community shows

Smaller community events like markets and Chamber of Commerce events bring in fewer people, but require less investment on your part. Leads developed at these events are typically stronger because you have more time to develop connections, and results may be better. Drawbacks include meeting fewer people. Contact your Chamber to see what types of events are going on in your area. You can also check nearby neighborhoods and cities to break out into new areas.

Having a focus

Another thing you should try to do is attend a trade show or two before deciding to become a vendor. That way you can judge firsthand whether you are likely to get a return on the time commitment and cost investment. Look for what other types of vendors participate and what the demographic of the attendees are. Could you picture your product and your business there? Would it appeal to guests?

There are plenty of trade shows, craft fairs, and markets available to you in your state, if not your city and surrounding area. Don’t get discouraged if the event you want already has a representative from your company attending. Move on and find another event you can attend.

The next important aspect when looking at trade shows is choosing what to focus on. It is good to have one goal in mind. This may change from show to show or event to event, but it’s important to go into every trade show with one main objective.

Many direct sales reps go into a trade show and try to obtain sales, bookings, and recruits — and end up feeling overwhelmed. It’s okay to touch on all these things, but when you go in with a tight focus and restrained expectancy, you will be more successful.

If you want to sell off inventory and make quick cash, then focus on that. Bear in mind that because people will be walking away with products in hand, they may be less likely to book a party or join as a team member.

If you want to sell something to help cover the cost of the booth, then consider having a show special. This special could be one product that is discounted, or bundled product. A show special can help you cover the cost of your booth and still create a desire for hosting among attendees because there will be other product that they cant get at the trade show. Be sure to always have samples of your other products out on the table.

Focus on either booking to fill your calendar with parties and appointments or on securing recruiting leads. These are the activities that will move your business forward and make you more money in the long run.

When looking to fill your calendar, focus your efforts on creating a desire for the product and emphasizing the benefits of hosting. Instead of giving away catalogs, which can be costly, make up smaller brochures or flyers (some companies do this for you) that cover the host benefits and highlight some of the benefits of your products. To encourage booking on the spot, you can also offer a booking bonus special. This is a gift hosts will receive the day of their party for booking with you (not the day they book at the trade show).

If you want to focus on recruiting, give out information and recruiting packets. Most companies have already created these materials for you. Focus on the benefits of starting a direct sales business and have posters or banners that say “Start a Business for as little as $___” (your kit cost).

If your company doesn’t offer recruiting materials or other marketing pieces, include a kit flyer (photo of the kit and cost) as well as information on the benefits of starting a business. Some of these benefits are increased income, flexibility, awards and incentives, friendships, and personal growth.

So before each event, decide what you really want at that particular time in your business (sales, bookings, or recruits) and stick to pursuing that.