You only say you love trade shows when you’re drunk

Trade shows aren’t all work: who can honestly say they haven’t stripped down at an after-show party and jumped into the rooftop pool?

But many sales teams just turn up at shows without a game plan, and as such they waste a massive lead gen opportunity, not to mention wasting the massive investment in time and cash their company committed to get them there.

Let’s look at 4 steps to making your sales team more effective at trade shows


1. Light up some targets

If your team has specific goals to hit during the show, they’re more likely to be proactive instead of waiting for booth traffic to come to them. Naming specific accounts is better than just handing out a quota, so have them research who’s likely to be there and ask to see their hit list in advance of the show.

If you have to resort to a numbers game, then position it as a number of people who meet your qualified lead criteria, not just raw conversations.


2. Send out the hunting parties

Not everyone is going to come to you.

Have Marketing create a custom handbill for each show, one side with your value proposal or newest thing and the other with a floor map showing where to find your booth. Then send your team out to hunt and gather customers.

Accost attendees (in a nice way) as they enter and exit relevant break-out sessions. Or if other exhibitors can be customers too but the right person isn’t available when you stop by, leave a handbill and ask them to visit when it’s quieter.


3. Do some tactical recon

For some unknown reason, the most tight-lipped companies in the world will open up in their booth and spill their demo guts to all and sundry, even if they know you’re from the competition.

Talking to non-sales technical people will often yield better intel, and be sure to look around at the other booth visitors (aka your potential customers) to see what is making them nod.


4. Don’t let your reps talk to each other

There’s nothing more irritating than seeing sales people huddled up chatting at a show, it’s a wasted opportunity and it stops customers approaching your booth.

Set an explicit expectation that they should be talking to just about anyone else.

Note that execs from other departments in your org count as “anyone else” : a lull in booth traffic is a great time to hear from senior folk and build relationships up and down the corporate structure.


BONUS TRACK  Don’t spend on the scanner

The badge scanner is a ripoff. A paper visitor log is far more effective: it lets booth staff capture details of the conversation and highlight high priority opportunities for far better post-show followup.

It’s especially valuable if you have non-sales people staffing your booth. Just remember to pack a stapler to attach biz cards and lock up the log every night.