At a recent conference session I spoke at, an exhibitor came up to me after my presentation and asked a great question: “How can I start a sales conversation with people without being obnoxious?”. While the conference had an exhibitor hall, the exhibitor was also planning to attend various sessions and wanted some ideas for how to “break the ice”. My suggestion was to turn their badge into conversation piece. Most conference badges simply have the attendees name, and some brief biographical information (title, company, location). What I suggested was to take some actual colorful parts to their product, and attach them to their badge. Since everyone else’s badge was “plain”, their badge stood out. And indeed, people started asking about the colorful things on their badge. The ice was broken, naturally. Jay Hamilton-Roth Badge (after)Notice I didn’t suggest creating a billboard out of the badge (”Have Questions About XYZ? Talk To Me!”). That sort of message doesn’t create a dialog. It creates a response to the message itself (and a potential lost opportunity to dialog). Instead, my suggestion provides people a way to approach you with their curiosity piqued, and for you to begin a sales dialog. You can pre-qualify your potential client based on their needs, and not on your specific product or service.