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Know Before You Go

Be on top of your game at trade shows & activities

It’s exciting and can even be a bit overwhelming to head out of the country and introduce your products to the international buying community. To help with a smooth selling process, we have gathered some event tips below. These are meant to help you gather the right materials while preparing yourself, and your team, for interacting with prospects at a trade show or other export activities. We’ve also included some guides on doing business in global markets. You can download this checklist and print copies to take with you to events.

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  • Do your homework.
    • Research the culture of your next trade activity destination.
    • Acquaint your team with etiquette protocols, both in-person, and through any communications.
    • Identify the market’s demographic and food trends. By getting to know the audience, you can see how your product fits within their palette.
    • Find out if any product education is necessary.
    • Connect with the country’s Agricultural Trade Offices for more in-depth, local information.
  • Make a plan.
    • Set goals, and equip yourself and your team with the tools to meet buyers.
    • Create a folder to keep important documents in one place (client meeting itineraries, important travel documents, event invitations/ registrations, etc.) and be sure to make a copy for your home office as a backup.
    • Plan to bring appropriate amounts of materials like business cards, brochures, one-pagers, sales stats, samples, portfolio books, etc. Think about getting them translated, as needed.
  • Think ahead.
    • Double check event organizer and SUSTA resources.
    • Determine if you need an interpreter, a sampler or both.
    • Will you need refrigeration or electrical run to your area?
    • Are there one-on-one meetings offered through the organizers?
    • Are there any other events being held in conjunction with the show such as market briefings or retail tours?
    • Are my event costs reimbursable?

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  • Dress for success.
    • Decorate your area/booth/table to visually sell your products.
    • Bring an appropriate amount of materials for your space, but don’t overwhelm the booth area.
    • Display all educational and marketing material for easy access and keep them tidy.
    • Match your team to the market’s audience
    • Have your sales team or booth staff look the part. Wear clothing that touts your branding/theme to support your efforts. When in doubt, dress professional. People are looking at your products and your representatives - image is everything and you only get one chance to make a good first impression.
  • Be engaged.
    • Make sure your area/booth/table is always staffed.
    • Don’t plan on dismantling your area early or leaving the pavilion/booth before the event closes. An empty space affects your image and selling power. In addition, specifically for trade shows, companies who leave early are at risk for penalties from the organizers.
  • Keep an event kit handy.
    • Bring supplies to assemble and disassemble your area.
    • Suggested items: box cutter, scissors, two-sided tape, picture hooks/Velcro, zip ties/string, first-aid kit, pain and other medications, extra pens/pencils, writing tablets, post-it pads, stapler, calculator, laptop/tablets, and anything else that you may need.
    • It’s always nice to have a small amount of spending cash for those forgotten items or last minute copies that need to be made.

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  • Strive for being approachable at all times.
    • Avoid working on your laptop too often, checking phones, and/or only focusing on your co-workers.
  • Engage your prospects!
    • Make the most of the short amount of time you have with visitors.
    • Ask open-ended questions and avoid those that prompt a yes/no answer.
    • Never ignore a prospect. Even if you’re with another potential customer, give the new visitor a nod and “just a minute” gesture, and then include them into your conversation when you can.
  • Greet attendees by name.
    • If you can’t pronounce it, ask.
  • Incorporate a cultural greeting.
    • For handshakes, match the strength of the other person and only “pump” twice.
    • Be aware of cultural differences. This may mean addressing the visitor differently or using other body language.
  • Have a mechanism for collecting trade leads.
    • Be sure to prioritize your leads to ensure proper follow-up after the show.