Don’t be the tradeshow booth bozo.

Booth Bozo

Today I’m back in the office, sorting mail that comes on paper, figuring out what made my mobile device miss messages while I was away, and sharing some ideas to address the concern of one of my very favorite software company sales directors.

Her problem, in a nutshell, is that the company CEO thinks, no he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is the World’s Best Trade Show Booth Asset. He routinely tells every sales rep and manager on his team that if they could only handle booth traffic like he does, they would all “be out buying boats.”

There are a few teensy, tiny problems:

This CEO drives traffic away from the booth in droves with his loud antics and aggressive approach.

His long-winded buttonholing of every passing human, in addition to making him someone to avoid, also keeps the rest of his sales team from sorting the traffic visually or verbally for qualified, interested visitors.

Fred also exempts himself from all of the badge swiping and booth visitor tracking systems that his sales management team have painstakingly set up–so even the good leads are likely to leave with a hat and no real sales contact. No-one can determine whether leads who were scheduled to stop by the booth to meet their rep and demo the software were allowed near a computer by Fred at the Front.

Did I mention that Fred also fancies himself a stand-up comic? Oh yes. Each visitor is greeted with a tidbit from the CEO cheat-sheet of inappropriate and irrelevant ice-breaker humor from the 1980’s (all described in a workshop HR made ME attend in 1995).

If a hardy and determined prospect makes it to asking for technical information on Fred’s solution, they are more likely to get the whole life story of how Fred built “his baby” rather than the data that could drive a buying decision.

This is not the first time SJN has heard similar complaints from high ranking technology salespeople. Sometimes the booth bozo is the regional guy from Anaheim, but more likely it is the CEO or his lucky brother in law, the Biz Dev director.

So what is the the solution for the booth bozo problem? Well, it depends. Besides suggesting to our favorite contact, whose situation is described here, that perhaps it’s time to take her highly productive and marketable skills elsewhere, we are open to input.

It sometimes works well to set up a VIP offsite meeting for the booth bozo during key exhibit hall hours. It sometimes works to gently cue someone in the company he listens to that he should tone it down a bit. But most often, we see the booth bozos graduate from driving away booth traffic to driving away top sales talent. In more than a few cases Fred then decides that trade shows are a “waste of time and money.” And he is right. For a real booth bozo, staying home is the very best way to handle trade show booth traffic.

SJN Sales offers outsourced trade show management services that a few wise sales directors have used effectively to keep the booth bozos away from the exhibit hall. No guarantees though. In our experience a true booth bozo CEO will find a way to have his day in the spotlight. For these companies chances for success are best increased by skipping the show and hoping that Fred spends the rest of his time in a more productive and less annoying task area.

SJN sales teams are on the road this time of year. We have all been attending various trade shows, conventions, industry meetings, and conferences, in our core vertical contact areas. The SJN team has a system for making each convention stop effective and efficient. We would be happy to share that system with anyone who wants to give it a try. But that’s another post.


About Deb Taylor @ SJN Sales

SJN Sales presents complex intangibles to specific US markets and closes sales. SJN Sales also provides training for professional services providers, from software to health care, who have learned that 'selling yourself' is harder than it sounds.
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2 Responses to Don’t be the tradeshow booth bozo.

  1. Giuseppe says:

    There are far to many of these guys out there! Great article!

  2. Pingback: Interop Expo floor is open | SJN Sales

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