Quit looking at your phone at shows!

Liz KeenerAfter learning that a few local powersports dealers would be at the Minneapolis Boat Show displaying their PWC and boat lines this past weekend, Dave and I thought it would be prudent for us to stop by, see the displays and say hi to the local powersports crowd.

As we wandered the show, checking out as many booths as we could, we both noticed a trend we see far too frequently at any variety of B2B and B2C shows — those working booths not engaging with the attendees.

We’ve both been there — long days, sitting in a booth for hours on end. We know so many people stop by who aren’t even interested in your product, let alone the fact that they may not have the funds to purchase it. Or maybe they’re already a loyal customer of a competitor of yours. And many are just looking for whatever free handout or giveaway you might be offering. Yeah, it’s frustrating.

But, if you don’t pay attention, how are you going to find the gems? How are you going to convince that interested buyer that you’re the brand or company to buy from? How are you going to steal them away from your competitor? You have to be engaged and stick through every no until you get a yes.

At the show Friday I witnessed a woman at one 10-by-10 flipping through something on her phone. Despite that, a couple began to talk to her. She occasionally looked up and responded to them, but whatever was on her phone was clearly more important, as she glanced down every time she finished her contribution to the conversation. The couple walked away.

At another booth, a man chowed down on a piece of pizza, while he talked to potential customers, which wasn’t the most pleasant sight to see.

Sure, there are some people who would rather browse than be faced with the high-pressure sell, however, if you use the friendly get-to-know-you sales techniques we’ve all learned rather than diving straight into the sell, you might get somewhere. You honestly won’t know where they are in the buying process unless you do some investigating.

If you do probe each potential customer, you’ll make more sales. Just ask the salesperson I talked to Friday, who had sold eight PWC himself after a day and a half at the show.

Just be mindful of what you’re doing at the booth — checking your phone, only chatting with your co-workers, sitting behind a table, or looking bored — and make sure you’re not projecting an uninterested, un-engaging persona to potential buyers.


Shows can be a great place to convert those who are just browsing into buyers, but you have to be present and push to make the sale.

Liz Keener is the managing editor of Powersports Business, a trade magazine for the powersports industry. She reports on the powersports industry through Powersports Business’ varied media, including in the magazine and online. She assembles the brand’s three-times-a-week e-news and handles a variety of assignments for the magazine. Powersports Business is known for its exclusive national dealer surveys, in-depth industry analysis, Power 50 dealership honors program and dealership conference, Powersports Business Institute @ AIMExpo.

Contact: lkeener@powersportsbusiness.com
Website: www.powersportsbusiness.com


  1. Great post Liz! You could also certainly add to this post...

    Quit looking at your phone when...
    - You're with your kids
    - When you're with your spouse
    - When on a date
    - When walking down the street about to walk into a man hole!

    When we all hear that ding... it's always so tempting to look down at our phones. But whether we're with our kids or customers... it often tells people more about us when we DON'T look down when we hear that text ding on our phones. Just my two cents.

    Happy New Year all!

  2. Liz,

    Phone distraction any time, opened lap tops (not relevent) in meetings drive me nuts- stay focused and respect the present. Focus will show interest and increase productivity from projects to sales.


  3. Thanks, Michael!

    Tom, I totally understand your point. Did you see this article we ran recently about companies banning cell phones from meetings? https://powersportsbusiness.com/news/2016/01/21/research-supports-banning-smartphones-from-meetings/


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