You’re at the show, looking sharp, and ready to help people with your product and service. The attendees begin filing in. They came to the show looking for answers but as soon as they enter the show hall, they feel like little lambs receiving stares from hungry wolves. They begin to feel intimidated and will begin use tactics to avoid making eye contact with you. But, that’s okay because it’s to be expected.

Here are subtle, polite ways around this:

First, don’t fall into the trap of everyday questions (and responses).

  • For example: How are you? (Fine), What brings you to the show? (Just looking), Can I borrow a few minutes to tell you what we do? (No)

  • These questions along with many others will get you nowhere. It’s important to never ask a close-ended question.

Second, prepare your questions.

  • Prior to the show, your team should meet to discuss the strategy for attending the show.

  • Who are your target prospects?

  • Is the goal the number of leads, the number of demos, or the number of actual sales?

  • What does a successful show look like.

 Creative and scripted questions should be formed ahead of time so you will stand out and attract attendees to your booth.

Below are the 5 best questions for getting someone in your booth. These are questions that I have used or have been used on me that will get the conversation started.


1. How have you been?

If you must default to this “safe” ice breaker then ask it the right way. “How are you?” asks how someone is at that moment. “How have you been?” is a question a friend would ask that has known you for awhile. You’re asking about the past even though you have no history with the person. It’s emits a pause from many.


2. What can I specifically help you find today at the show? If I can’t offer it, maybe I can help direct you to another vendor?

They are at the show for a reason but before they can shut you down, you’ve offered to help them, regardless if it benefits you or not. This shows some humility and makes them feel safer.


3. (Their name), tell me what you’re working on back at the office and what at this show could help you?

Often using their name casually helps break the ice and helps them realize you’re here to personally help them.


4. These shows can be overwhelming, what’s the one goal you want to accomplish while here?

Acknowledging the obvious breaks down their guard to be more open with you.


5. What’s your biggest struggle you’re trying to overcome at work?

Sometimes they will laugh and give you an answer that has nothing to do with the show. That’s okay though, share the chuckle and ask again what you can do to help them.


You will get those attendees that will not budge and make a connection with you. Tradeshows are an extension of sales, and sales is a numbers game – keep getting the “no’s” and eventually you’ll get the yes.


The beauty behind these 5 questions is that you’ve left an impression on that attendee that the show is about them, not you. This feeling will make you more memorable, and maybe when they pass by you for the 10th time, your smile and welcoming approach will finally bend them to talk.


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Executive Coach

Deb Venable has over 25 years of experience in the tradeshow industry. As a seasoned entrepreneur and business owner, Deb understands first-hand the struggles and obstacles of growing a business and exhibiting.  A leader in sales strategy and coaching, Deb’s passion for people and progress help her work with business owners to generate significant, predictable & sustainable growth year after year.

MYB2BCOACH is designed to leverage the combined knowledge of your business leadership and transform it into practical skills that become second nature to your sales team. Our proven process is built on strategy, training, accountability, and A.I. sales coaching software. Your sales team will become confident, comfortable and conversational in their prospecting and closing, leading to new clients, improved profits, increased commissions, and job satisfaction.