Tips for effective participation in trade events
Major trade promotion events provide opportunities for understanding the market better and meeting the customers.  Such events may result in spot sales or trial orders, but they always are learning experiences.

Trade missions are often for exploration, investigation and fact-finding in nature providing the opportunity to get to know more about the way a market works and to meet major business organisations or market intermediaries.  Trade missions can also be good ways of raising visibility for a corporate organisation or for a supplying country.

Trade fairs and exhibitions are more like shop windows, where there is an opportunity to display products and project an image of a well organised, reliable supplier and to obtain some initial market reactions to a display or demonstration. Trade fairs are good opportunities to learn from the customer through one to one contact.  The benefit of being 'on show' allows customers to come close to a product and its supplier and to 'see' for themselves.

Specialized trade fairs or sector specific fairs provide a special advantage in that they allow direct and easy comparison with competing suppliers; this helps the supplier as well as the customer, but it means that appearances and presentations should be of very high standards if the comparison is to be in your favour.

General principles of participation in trade events
There are five key factors to success for participation in a major trade event.  
These are;-

  • Good preparations, well in advance of the event, mean that you are well informed and well equipped to deal with the demands of the situation. Good preparations are fundamental to establishing your credibility as a good supplier.  A credible supplier achieves more sales and reduces the possibility of being overtaken by events and be forced to compromise at the last minute.  
  • A positive approach means that you are outward going and proactive in searching for business opportunities, rather than waiting for the customers to find you.  Many people find it hard to make the first approach, but familiarity and practice bring confidence, and confident suppliers attract good customers.
  • Listening to customers' questions and understanding their needs helps to present the benefit available from the product in the best possible manner. No salesman can complete a sale without carefully listening to and watching the reactions of his customers. Carefully observing how the market works and how customers operate helps build a position of knowing your customers and providing a better service than the competition.
  • A good business relationship is the secret of long term success in the form of repeat orders. Making an offer at the right time, which is open and straight forward, is an important part of closing a deal. Do not get side tracked by one-off deals or consignment business.  Buyers will do business with people who have integrity and can be trusted to fulfil their end of the bargain. 
  • A successful business person is a normally conscientious and hardworking with patience and attention to detail, especially in matters of research, record keeping and follow-up. Face to face contacts are many in a major trade event.  Keeping records of contacts and business opportunities provides the opportunity to follow-up and possibly generate a satisfactory sale.
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