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Five Steps to Great Trade Show Demos

Spring is approaching, and with it, the season of sponsorships. For vendors, trade shows offer a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight regarding market needs, engage potential customers, and show off their product to hundreds. In order to maximize this opportunity, your team needs to enter with a plan. Here are five tips we keep front of mind to put our best foot forward when demoing SolarWinds® Database Performance Monitor at trade shows.
  1. Keep The Focus On The Prospect. Your trade-show demo isn’t about you; it’s about the prospect. Talk as little as possible, ask questions, listen a lot, demo only what’s relevant, and get lead information for later followup. Resist the temptation to demo the entire product. You both have a lot of people to talk to and limited time, so set the hook but do not try to close the deal at the booth.
  2. Develop A Default Script. Be prepared for people who are interested but have no specific agenda. Some people resist engaging at a personal level at a booth but are curious to see the product in action. Have a specific set of steps to show off three to five highlights that really make the product shine. Make sure the beginning stage is easy to access; ideally leave each demo ready for the next demo to start. Rehearse the actions and words until you are able to inject them into conversation naturally.
  3. Turn Off Distractions. Close all other apps. Disable balloons that might intrude with notifications; no one needs to know your mom sent you an email during a demo. On a Mac, use Do Not Disturb mode in the notification preferences. Full-screen the app. If it’s Chrome, enter Presentation mode to completely hide the menu and tab bar.
  4. Keep The Display Alive. Don’t let screensavers start and require a password at exactly the wrong time, such as when you step away from the booth for a bathroom break. On a Mac, use the Caffeine app. If possible, mirror your demo on a large monitor mounted at head level, so more than one person at a time can view it and the demo is visible to people a few booths away.
  5. Have A Contingency Plan. Network connections and power are constant risk factors at trade shows. Have a wired connection, but also bring a wireless hotspot just in case, and make sure you have power strips and chargers so you can charge laptops, cellphones, and badge scanners. Badge scanners are notorious for breaking and running out of power, so install QR and barcode readers on your phones ahead of time just in case.
Of course, the demo is just the beginning. Once the swag is gone and the booth is packed, you must continue to build those relationships. Reach out personally to those most interested and send useful material to others. Invite them to continue the conversation. Where can you find us this spring? We will be at the following conferences: PGConf US - New York, NY Percona Live - Santa Clara, CA O’Reilly Fluent - San Fransisco, CA GOTO Conference - Chicago, IL O’Reilly Velocity - San Fransisco, CA See you on the circuit!
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