How Home Shows Can Generate Leads

There are some kitchen and bath dealers who can derive an entire year of business and leads just from one good home show. However, there are also many kitchen and bath dealers who hate the idea of spending a lot of money, building displays, bringing in a lot of product and standing on their feet for long hours with sometimes negligible results. It's a matter of perspective. It's how you view the home show itself.

Clearly, there are good home shows and bad ones. But, in the long run, it's how you work the show that makes all the difference.

As a consumer, I love home shows, especially during colder weather months when there isn't a whole lot else going on. I've never bought a whole lot at home shows, though. The usual routine is to get a couple of shopping bags, fill them up with about 15 pounds of brochures and literature, add 20 business cards, talk to anyone who wants to make conversation, and forget about them entirely after you get home. Makes for a heck of a day.

My neighbor had a beautiful new master bathroom installed last year after he went to a local home show. When I asked him if he put the deal together at the show, he made a great point. "No," he responded, "but the home show certainly told me who not to deal with." He said that he left his name at one display with a salesman who never got back to him. Another bathroom designer was way too expensive. And another wouldn't give him the time of day.

"When you're really interested, give me a call," he said.

Likewise, you need to beware of scaring potential clients with too much aggressiveness. Sometimes a "Sign here or you will never see this deal again in your lifetime" approach doesn't work, either.

Playing the game
A few street-smarts can get you some great leads that will turn into great sales. Indeed, creativity and attitude can go a long way to creating business at home shows.

Think about your displays at home shows and other outside events. Are you in category A:

"What can we do to talk to a lot of people?" or category B: "How long before we can get the heck out of here?"

Be honest. Standing on your feet for 12 straight hours can be a little bit of a strain, particularly if you're not selling anything. But, when you're putting together a lot of sales, getting appointments with people to meet you at the showroom, accumulating leads and creating some great visibility in your marketplace, time can go very quickly.

The key to successful home show selling is attitude. It's got to be fun. If you're bored, it will show. Customers can tell if you don't want to be there. However, if you have the right attitude, the right selling skills and the right display with good price points, you can do a lot of business.

I remember some very clever displays at the last few home shows that I attended. One exhibit had all of the salespeople wearing badges that simply said, "Go ahead, ask me." The badge didn't give the person or company name. It was a neat idea that gave them a different look and gave the impression that they were easy to talk to.

Another exhibit featured a group of people who were all dressed alike who gave out certificates for free lottery tickets just for stopping by the showroom. The sign "You might win $5,000 in cash just for stopping by our showroom!" at least got a second look. If the prospect took time to ask questions about a new kitchen or bath right there at the home show, the person was given a $1 lottery ticket and a promise of five more just for stopping by, or letting someone from the showroom give them a quote at their house. Of course with the tickets came the words, "Who knows, you might end up getting the [kitchen or bath] for free!" Very clever. Everyone in the booth had lottery tickets coming out of their pockets, and the curiosity factor played out well.

Of course there are some states that don't have lottery drawings, but there are a lot of things you can do yourself on a very limited budget. Not only can you increase business from these exposures, but by using a separate table for a free drawing, you can also produce a great mailing list of semi-qualified leads. The secret here is to have the free drawing table staffed, and the free drawing cards should qualify the registrants. Find out if they currently own their own home, how old the house is, what remodeling they have done on the house and what remodeling projects they are considering. Give away something of value that will appeal to the largest number of people walking by. Combination DVD and VHS players are inexpensive and work well. Surround-sound TV theater systems have come down in price and have perceived value. Your entry cards will qualify people who sign up so that you can determine who the qualified prospects are.

Work the plan
Home shows and other consumer events can be great opportunities for selling kitchens and baths. You don't have to be slick, devious or high-pressure. Instead, you have to be creative, assertive, personable and sharp. You have to be able to get people to stop and to buy. You have to follow up leads and act as if you're interested.

If home and mall shows are a pain for you, do yourself and your company a favor; stay home. Remember, selling is the lowest paid easy work, and the highest paid hard work there is. If you really want to do some business and run circles around your competition at the same time, start planning your next show now. It could really generate some immediate business and give you enough leads to keep prospects coming through your door every day.

Bob Popyk is the publisher of Creative Selling, a monthly newsletter on sales and marketing strategies. His sales meetings and seminars are presented internationally to major companies and industries, including many in the kitchen and bath industry. For a free sample of his newsletter, call (800) 724-9700; e-mail; write to: Bentley-Hall, Inc., 120 Walton St., Suite 201, Syracuse, NY 13202; or visit his Web site at