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Beware! The Time Monkey

Posted on March 01, 2016

Ever heard the expression 'I've got a monkey on my back'? It's generally used to mean something that's preventing a person from getting on, holding them back from being happy or successful. Too often you see staff manning exhibition stands that have the Time Monkey on their back.

If you think about your interactions with your potential customers at an exhibition, they are probably going to be a lot shorter than they would be in say, a pre-arranged visit. Instead of an hour, or however long it normally lasts, you're going to be speaking with most people for less than 5 minutes and in many cases an even shorter period of time. For some staff the knowledge that they are only going have this person for a limited amount of time creates a Monkey! Every time they speak with a customer the monkey whispers in their ear 'You're only going to have this person for two minutes therefore you must tell them EVERYTHING!'. So they go into Tell mode and most of us have heard the maxim - Telling is not Selling. The result is that the customer soon switches off and starts shuffling away because most of what they are hearing does not seem relevant.

The Time Monkey often arises where over enthusiasm meets lack of training. Staff can be so enthusiastic about what they have to offer that they want to communicate every product, service, feature and benefit without any regard for the customers needs. In order to overcome this, staff need to first of all relax and understand that in most B2B exhibitions the interaction on the stand is like a first date. Your objective is not to get married, but to do enough to get the second date, which means showing an interest in the other person and finding commonalities. Or to put it another way - qualifying.

Effective qualifying is not just about deciding if you'd like to spend time with this person, both parties are qualifying each other. It's a two way process which done well builds rapport and gives you the information to make what you say relevant. Developing a set of qualifying questions is best practice in preparing for your exhibition. Another way of looking at this is to ponder - what questions would I need to ask to determine if the person in front of me could benefit from my product or service. You don't need to ask every question you come up with, but there will be two or three that make a real difference, and everyone in the team needs to be comfortable and familiar with what they are.