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​The Worst Question to Ask on a Trade Show Display Sales Call

Posted by Jessica Diers on

When I am on a sales call with a client, I often ask the dreaded question: What’s your budget? That question is the worst, but still essential. I don’t like asking this question because I never know what response I’m going to get. I have to be ready for anything, I could get immediate frustration and irritation, or the ideal response, an actual budget. I understand that most companies are unsure of their budget. If that is the case I usually encourage them to revisit internally and get back to me before we begin work together. I ask budget question, even though I don’t like it, because I have to. Otherwise, it is extremely difficult for me to identify the correct product. We have so many products in the exhibit industry, and they all range in cost. Let’s say I were to sell you a 10x10 trade show display, the cost to build ranges anywhere from $900-$100,000. Knowing a budget upfront helps me to identify the type of trade show display I should recommend.

If you often cringe when you get asked about your budget, then I recommend reading through these 4 budget building questions. Each question should help you understand why a budget is important when you’re building a portable or custom trade show display.

1. How many shows are you attending per year and what size is your booth space?

The correct number of shows will help identify how much use the booth will be getting. Having a set booth space ensures we create the correct size and style. Some of my clients attend shows that require a modular display. So, they will attend 5 total shows a year, 2 shows in a 10x10 booth space and 3 shows in a 10x20 booth space. Budget is important when there are a large number of shows that differ in size. We will want to know the budget for the 10x20 and make sure it can break down into a 10x10 to be used at future shows. Booth spaces can range anywhere from a 10x10 booth space to a 40x50 booth space.

If you are attending one trade show for the first time, and are a new brand in the market, I would minimize your budget. I know that sounds counterproductive. Many of my clients think that it is important to designate a large budget to building their trade show presence. But my recommendation is to wait. Your branding and company will develop and evolve as you grow in your industry. Be patient, the time will come when we can put a large number on your trade show budget.

2. Who is your customer base at the trade show? What’s your anticipated ROI?

If you have a large customer base attending shows, with a guaranteed ROI, or a large client attending that you want to impress. I would recommend putting a little more money towards your trade show display.

3. What is your footprint like in your industry? Are you just starting out? Have you been around for many years?

If you’re a small start up that is just getting out there, I don’t recommend spending a large budget on the show. Alternatively, if you are a large company that has been around for several years and it is important for you to be present at a trade show, but you may not see a massive ROI, there may be potential to invest so that your brand is consistent at the show with what you market to your target audience.

4. How established is your company in your market?

Think of your trade show display as a pop up shop. You have your online presence, physical business and marketing that represents your brand. And then you have your trade show presence that is an extension of your brand. Similar to a pop up shop where people can shop a brand for a specific amount of time. Pop up shops usually have the same brand appeal, relevance, and aesthetic touch as the online or physical presence of the brand. If you are an established company that is attending shows because you have to, I would challenge you to make sure that your trade show display concept exemplifies your brand and creates an environment for people to feel, see, touch and experience what your company has to offer. Similarly to how they would feel at your physical location, working with your team, or perusing your website. Sometimes having an established brand means putting more money into your trade show display. 

I hope these questions will help you to understand why having a budget is important. The initial question might be difficult to answer, but if you keep these 4 questions in mind, it should help. In the long run, having a budget will payoff.

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