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How to Win Customers at International Trade Shows

Once a company has selected the correct international trade show, it's critical to maximize every moment with foreign customers and prospects during the limited few days.

Being prepared is critical. "They need to be able to sit down in a meeting six months before a trade show, close their eyes and dream about every aspect of what could happen on a trade show floor for three days," says Peter LoCascio, founder and president at Trade Show Consultants in Oceanside, Calif., and Salem, Ore. Everything from press kits to pricing materials needs to be ready.

Cultural Awareness

Knowing foreign customers ahead of time is key. International business owners should start by being culturally aware, says Michael Gray, vice president of sales at Chantilly, Va.-based Exhibit Edge Incorporated, which designs, produces and manages trade show exhibits. "If you do not understand the culture, it can be devastating to your sales," Gray says. 

Some foreign customers will want to close a deal on the spot, while others are simply gathering information.

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For example, he says, at European trade shows it's customary for an exhibitor to have hospitality suites, enclosed conference rooms and large bar areas in the exhibit space for longer private conversations with foreign customers.

Also, business owners should try to have a local employee or translator on hand. Gray recently did a trade show in Seoul, South Korea, where he had literature, booth signage and business cards in English and Korean.

Clear Messaging

To cut down on wasted time, a company's products should be clearly displayed. "The exhibit has to communicate from the aisle who you are," LoCascio says. He recommends making sure an exhibit exudes a type of non-verbal communication "so when that one person looks at the signs from the aisle and steps on your carpet, you automatically know that he has read your signs and is interested in learning more about your products on display."

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Once a person steps into the booth, business owners should quickly ascertain who they are. This can help them avoid wasting time with competitors. "If a competitor does visit your booth seeking information, simply shake his hand and walk him out of the booth, and ask him to come back at a later time," LoCascio says. But, if it's a prospect, "The first question should be, 'Hello, how may I help you?'" From there, "it's a sales interview," LoCascio says. "You want to be asking questions, like 'How will you use this product?' and 'Are you familiar with it?'" And it's important that the interviewer takes careful, complete notes. 

Business owners should also remain flexible. Some foreign customers will want to close a deal on the spot, while others are simply gathering information. "Whatever the prospect wants, you have to be able to deliver on the show floor," LoCascio says.

Business owners should keep in mind that when working an international trade show abroad, they may need to conduct foreign transactions after closing a deal. The services of a trusted online foreign exchange provider can help them send convenient bank-to-bank international payments via laptop, tablet or smartphone in order to seal the deal quickly and easily.



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