I LOVE the fall…. time for hoodies, jeans, boots and LOTS of craft/vendor events. I am a crafter at heart so when I started in direct sales, I wanted to figure out the best way to use these for my business. I can remember telling my sponsor “I am only going to do vendor events, no home parties for me”. Well that worked for sales in the first year since I was still working a crazy busy work schedule. When I decided that I wanted Leadership, craft/vendor events took on a whole new meaning.
They went from being all about the sales to all about getting outside of my own circle and building leads with potential customers, hostesses and team members. Don’t get me wrong, sales are GREAT but they are the cherry on top of the cake.
Here are some tips for making the most of your next vendor event:
1. ARRIVE EARLY. I love being early. I know that it only takes me about a half hour to set up but arriving early has its perks. Honestly, some event coordinators don’t pre-assign tables which gives you a chance to scope out the best spot. I ALWAYS take an end spot. Being early will give you more time for unloading and booth setup, and less problems with parking. The best thing for me about arriving early is that I get to walk the event before it starts, talk to other vendors while they are setting up and maybe even help them. It is my social time before the event begins.
2. STAY FOR THE WHOLE EVENT. We have all been at shows where things are slow or there isn’t a lot of foot traffic but I NEVER leave an event early. It is simply bad form to be packing up and leaving, while customers may still be browsing other booths. You never know who might stop by, and the end of events is often the time that vendors network with other vendors. Some of my best customers of the day could be other vendors.
3. STAND WHEN POSSIBLE. First impressions are lasting impressions. This is the best way to engage with your customers, move about your booth freely, and present the best possible, positive experience. You will be able to pull product more easily, or direct to various display pieces that might be of interest to passers by. Remember that direct sales is about building relationships. You can’t build relationships if you are buried behind the table reading a book until someone asks you a question.
4. NETWORK WITH OTHER VENDORS. Vendors will often refer events to other vendor friends. Talk to vendors around you. You might not gain customers, but at least you’ll gain relationships that may yield future event leads. Networking with other vendors is a great thing to do when the event traffic is slow. I always offer them a discount if they place an order – who knows where a $5 coupon could lead.
5. ENGAGE WITH CUSTOMERS. I know that this may be a no brainer, BUT how many times have you seen a vendor sitting behind their booth, staring at their phone , and NOT engaging with their customers? I don’t mean give them a sales pitch. I mean a simple “hello” or “how is your day” or if they hesitate at my table, I usually ask them “what caught your eye”. Greet each passerby and invite them to view your product and display. Ask open ended questions to start a dialogue that will hopefully move into building a relationship. Ask a question then LISTEN!
6. OFFER A WAY TO COLLECT CUSTOMER INFORMATION. Remember the money is in the follow-up so the primary goal at a vendor event is hostess, customer, and team member leads. Offer a raffle entry or a drawing where all your leads can enter and provide their contact information. People like the chance to win. Then, be sure to follow-up with those leads within a reasonable amount of time.
Vendor events are what you make of them. No matter how “bad” they may seem on the surface, you want to make an impression on the event coordinator, the other vendors and your customers. You want to be known as someone who is respectful, reliable, and relational. Believe it or not, you will soon build a network of other vendors who will invite you to participate in future events. You can ROCK your vendor events, just by being a good vendor!
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!