Be ready to greet passers by. SMILE and gain eye contact.

Firstly let’s get one of my pet hates out of the way. It is heartbreaking seeing exhibitors hiding behind their stand and worse – playing on their phones! This is not the way to attract customers. There is nothing more off putting and I would walk right on by!!

That said, for some of you, engaging with strangers is a scary thought and I bet Iike me, when I first set out in business, knowing what to say as an opening comment did prove tricky, but with practice and a few phrases you feel comfortable with, you will be engaging with everyone!

Now nobody wants a pushy salesperson, in fact the main function of a salesperson is to encourage customers to buy. If you want to shift your product then you need to learn first the art of engagement and easing you into helping the customer make up his or her mind.

Once you know and feel comfortable with the words you use, making friendly engagement becomes easy.

It is all about the words you use. I am not going to go into the psychology of the words here (that is for another time), however if you use negative phrasing, such as the next example then you are likely to get a negative response:-

When training a cosmetic skincare consultant back in the 90s her opening phrase for booking a ‘party’ was “I suppose you don’t want a party?” Not exactly encouraging and definitely negative. In a way she was bracing herself for a NO so subconsciously gave the customer the way out and needless to say she did not gain bookings…. until she started to engage and find out about the person and their needs with a healthy dose of enthusiasm and interest.

For you guys, you have a short window of opportunity at your stand as people pass by.

Remember to SMILE

Here are a few conversation starters focusing particularly on exhibiting at a fair, festival or market:

What brought you here today or What inspired you to visit the………….

What do you like about this event?

Thank you for visiting my stand, what are you looking for today? Is it something for yourself or friend or family?

Who are you buying for today yourself or family? For instance, if they answer – the family, what should follow:

Ah that’s great is it just close family or …..

so who are they? son, daughter, husband, wife, partner, niece, nephew, grandparents,grand-children, what are their ages?

If it is for themselves – what is it you are seeking? Food Drink or Craft or all three!!


Good Morning/afternoon, it’s great to see so many here today…. Or more personal – Good Morning/afternoon it’s great to meet you today…. May I ask what you are looking for? is it a gift for yourself or a loved one…… Once into the conversation you will find it easier to tell your story. Explain how you came to make your product, what inspired you, the technique involved.

I recall Jude Stephenson of BowSpangles relate to me, how she made her necklaces and I was inspired. Another point, I do not wear Silver so Jude quickly changed the hooks on the earrings to gold. She also grouped together earrings and necklace. I bought both! or if food

What is your taste?

Savory or Sweet? Chutney or Jam? Pie or Pastry? ………. By asking either /or questions creates engagement and interest. The more you know about the needs and wants of your customer the more you will be able to encourage them to buy.

Offer tasters, tell your story of how it came to be, how you got into producing the item.

In summary:-


Ask Open friendly questions beginning with What, Where, Who, How, When and Why

Ask Either-Or questions

Do Not hide behind your stall

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