“You only have four seconds to make an impression at an exhibition”

It’s actually statistically proven that you only have 4 seconds to make a significant impact on visitors at an exhibition. It’s really important that you make your exhibition stand and your people stand out. You’re there for a reason, to meet new people and clients, and engaging positively with them is the first key step. Here’s 11 ways you can make those initial 4 seconds count and create a dialogue with your visitors.

I’ve frequently seen companies exhibiting whose sales staff is simply sitting on their exhibition stand waiting for to be approached, and it just doesn’t happen! If you’re going to invest the time, money and resources in exhibiting it’s crucial you engage your sales staff in the whole thing. The number one gripe by visitors is that the people working on the exhibition stand look dis-interested.

You’ll want to get your best, most energetic and enthusiastic people on the stand. One of the main reasons why exhibition training works so well is that it rightfully shows that selling at exhibitions is different than normal day-to-day selling, and thus you need to be prepared. Exhibitions can be hard work and it is difficult to maintain your levels of enthusiasm, but if you do you’ll drastically increase your results and leads from exhibiting.

There are a number of ways of getting visitors to your stand. Some involve the products and layout of the exhibition stand and the other ones include what your exhibiting team do. Consider the following and how you can implement these into your exhibiting and you will get a far greater return from the show:

  • Always stand

This shows interest in your surroundings and forces you to engage.

1. Move around the stand itself

This will encourage you to make eye contact with visitors.

2. No sitting down, texting or reading magazines

This will make you appear dis-interested and unapproachable.

3. Wear relaxed and suitable clothing

The more comfortable you feel the stronger the engagement.

4. Competitions

People love the chance of winning something! This also creates a dialogue and invites them to fill an entry in on your exhibition stand.

5. Something moving

Whether it’s a video or the product itself. This is really good for catching the eye of visitors.

6. Demonstrations

This is a great way to get an audience, and even better – get the visitor involved!

7. Freebies

People love something for free! Trade the freebie for an email address.

8. Asking open questions

Open questions get your visitor talking and this is a great way to build a rapport with them.

9. Special offers

These can be ones that are only applicable at the show itself and encourage commitment.

The stand-off technique: Stand in the aisle and allow visitors to walk onto the stand firs. This can be great as it’s very non-threatening for visitors.
The hard sell approach doesn’t work in day-to-day sales and exhibitions are no different. You need to almost not sell in order to sell if that makes sense! It’s more about getting the visitor into ‘buying mode’ than getting yourself into ‘selling mode’. Very often people coming to shows are there primarily to get ideas for future purchases and it’s worth bearing this in mind when selling at shows themselves.


Stephan “The Exhibition Guy” Murtagh has 25+ years’ experience in the exhibition and events industry, and has worked with many of the biggest organisers in the industry. As a qualified Fetac trainer, he set-up Your Sales Coach to educate and train people on how to sell more, his website features module-based courses and coaching for real life situations within the sector.