What to do at the Trade Show: Part 1

Oct 9, 2012 | Building Relationships, Business Owners, Lead Gen, Sales Coaching

How many of you are doing trade shows as a way to develop leads?  I know many of my clients are. They spend a lot of money and often get disappointing results.  Trade shows can be a good source of leads but they are very expensive and if you are not ready they can hurt your business more than help.  If you have had disappointing results you are not alone.  In this three part series, I will show you a process you can use to increase the results of any trade show and it starts with planning.

3 Phases

A successful trade show plan has 3 phases; what you do before the event, during the event and after the event.  The work done before and after usually receives little emphasis but is probably more important than what you do during the trade show.

Before the Show

Register in time to get the early bird special.  Then eight weeks before each show fill out a spreadsheet with all the details of the show, needs for the booth, who will attend and the work schedule, prices for flights and hotels, collateral needed, etc.

Set the Goals

Set the goals for the show. What do you plan to accomplish?  You’ve already determined that it is important to your business to exhibit at this show.  Think through these questions:

  • Who do you need to meet with?
  • How many leads do you need to collect?
  • How many visitors will visit your booth?
  • How many other exhibitors will you meet?
  • How many sales should result from exhibiting?
What Will You Do at the Booth

You have a beautiful booth designed and everyone knows what to wear.   The booth needs to invite people in and nothing should stand in between you and your prospects.

You are looking good!  Here are some other things to consider.

  • How will the booth be set up to invite people in?
  • Who will work and what is the schedule?
  • How will you collect contact information?
  • What collateral will you give out?
  • Will you have a contest?
  • Will you have a show special?
  • Will you give away logo’d gizmos and gadgets?
  • What questions will you ask?

Do you have a budget for all of the above? Does any of it need to be designed or ordered? Don’t wait until the last minute.  Plan a meeting to decide on all of these things and build a timeline to get them done.

 Connect Prior to the Show

Connecting with your prospects prior to the show does several things for you.  First, if you are engaging,  it guarantees you will have more visitors at your booth.  It markets your company to those who may not attend and gives you higher visibility to those that do.  Get a list of registrants for the conference and a list of exhibitors.  Sometimes a list comes with your registration and sometimes you have to pay extra.  It’s worth it to pay for the list. Make a plan to contact the list prior to the show.  It’s rare to get email addresses so you will need a budget for direct mail or time to make calls.

Schedule calls, emails and mail so that you reach people about 2 weeks before the show and again a week before the show if possible.  If you mail a postcard be sure to have a call to action that has them bring the card to the booth to receive something.  This way you can track your results.  If you do email, ask them to mention the email to receive something.

You will want to make phone calls to certain companies to schedule appointments with them or ask them to stop by the booth.

A lot of the work to insure your results goes on before the show and if you don’t start early enough it can be disastrous.

Follow Up Plan

The most important thing that has to be planned in advance is the follow up. First and foremost the time to do the follow up has to be scheduled on someone’s calendar or it won’t get done. So time has to be scheduled.  If emails or mail will be sent to each visitor then that should be prepared and as ready to go as possible so that only addresses need to be applied.  If individual emails and calls are warranted, time should be blocked to do that.  Many people hire temps to help with trade show follow up so they don’t lose valuable leads. You want to be sure you build on the momentum.  Plan the social media content you will post before, during and after the event and have that all ready to go too.

The preparation phase is critical to getting great results. In part 2 of this series on Oct. 16th, I will give you tips on what to do during the trade show to make a great impression and make your follow up easy.

I hope you have learned a few things that you will use to plan your next trade show. If you would like more great information on sales, please subscribe to my blog. If you are facing any obstacles in your business with regards to sales, I welcome your questions. Please contact me at 775-852-5020.

Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman

Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion.  Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.


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