An Inside Scoop from a Judge – How to Win Best of KBIS Next Year

January 27, 2020

By Rebecca West of Seriously Happy Homes, Best of KBIS 2020 judge

Whether you are a specialty exhibitor like the charming folks at Kalamazoo Grills or a mega-firm like GE, you have an equal opportunity to win Best of KBIS at NKBA’s annual Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS). But if you want to win, you need to put your best foot forward. As one of five judges for Best of KBIS 2020, I’m here to give you a little insight into what makes for a winning presentation from my perspective. 

Before I dive in, bear in mind that these tips focus on how to give a winning presentation. I’m assuming you’ve already taken the time and done the work needed to develop an innovative, beautiful and functional product. If you have a bad product, no presentation will help you win Best in Show at KBIS 2021 or any other competition. But let’s say you do have a wonderful, innovative product. What can you do at the show next time to encourage a win?

1. Lead with the most innovative features and benefits. 

Each competitor gets just five minutes to tell us why their product should win Best of KBIS. A number of presenters were lovely, but instead of leading with their most innovative features and benefits – like why this product should capture our attention and why it should win this year – they took some of their precious five minutes to thank us for coming, introduce themselves and their team and tell us the history of the brand. If that information isn’t a part of why this product should win, then don’t be afraid to skip the niceties and the history and just dive into what is AWESOME about your product. If you leave that stuff to the end, you may run out of time and fail to win simply because you didn’t tell the judges why your product was awesome. 

2. Answer our burning questions.

If we are judging you in person, then your entry already caught our attention and it got you to the position of being a finalist. Congrats! That means we’re truly eager to know why we should choose you as a winner, so don’t leave us hanging. Practice your presentation with as many folks who don’t know your product, find out what questions they have after you complete your five-minute spiel, then rework your presentation to cover any questions that make it clearer why you have a winning product. Common follow-up questions we had to ask were: 

“Which of these features are new this year?”

“Why are these features important? How are they innovative?”

“How does this feature/this innovation compare to other similar products on the market?”

Some folks would mix in cool features that had actually been around for a while, and we needed to clarify what was new and innovative this year (since that is what we are judging). If you have the only product solving a given problem, speak up and say so! If other products solve this problem but in a less-good way, say so! Don’t assume we know that the problem you’ve solved needed solving, and don’t assume we are familiar with comparable products out there. Tell us, tell us clearly, and tell us quickly.

The best presenters answered our questions before we even thought to ask them, and all we had to do at the end of their presentation was thank them for a wonderfully prepared, thorough presentation. But be prepared for a couple follow up questions, and consider making your presentation just four minutes long to leave a little room for those questions. 

3. Be enthusiastic, but don’t be sales-y.

We know you want to win – you don’t have to use any of your precious five minutes telling us that you’d really like to win Best In Show. But we do want to feel your enthusiasm. We are visiting dozens of vendors, and true passion will stand out. If you are not excited about your product, why in the world should we be?

4. Practice your presentation. 

Conventions are busy and noisy, and all that chaos can distract an unprepared presenter. If your product involves a demo, be sure to practice it both back home and also after install at the show. Have a back-up plan in case Wi-Fi doesn’t work (if your demo requires it). Five minutes will pass much more quickly than you can imagine, so know your presentation like the back of your hand, and try to make it rely on unreliable tech or other humans. Set yourself up for success!

5. Give us room and your complete attention. 

You won’t know exactly when we will arrive, and while our fearless leader did an amazing job moving us along from vendor to vendor, we did get a little behind on schedule. Be flexible, and make sure the whole team knows we’ll be coming so they can help find your presenter as quickly and efficiently as possible. Once we arrive, it’s okay to cheerfully interrupt folks who might be standing in front of your display to say, “Hey folks, we are so excited the judges are here to see our product for the Best in Show entry. Would you mind giving us the floor for the next five minutes?” Be firm and get the party started!