Updated: Apr 30, 2020
Trade shows are a huge opportunity for companies at any stage if done right. You can meet potential new clients, rise awareness for your brand and find cooperating partners. At the same time, they also represent a huge investment. Especially when you think about the costs for the booth at the trade show, the plane tickets and hotel fares. Therefore, before attending a trade show, you should make sure that your prospect targets will be there too to create a healthy return on investment.
For us, trade shows are one of the main drivers for our success. We started off three years ago with a small booth and only 10 approved meetings. Now three years later and with the expertise on how to do use the right outreach strategy beforehand, we now have a huge booth and 500+ appointments with customers. You can do the same with your company if you know how. With the following 5 rules to trade show success your booth will never be empty anymore.
#1: Setting Clear Goals: You should clearly state what you want to achieve at the trade show in advance. Define the number of appointments you want to have, the number of opportunities you want to create or set the value for your pipeline you want to accumulate. Put your targets into words. In that way you can visualize your goals, you will have a clear structure and you can work your way towards them. That will also help you after the show when you reflect about the outcome. Then you can easily answer questions like: Shall we visit this show again? Which things worked, which things didn’t work? Did we talk to the right people? Once you have your goals set, you are ready to prepare for the email outreach.
#2: Pre Schedule Meetings:
Before you start with the actual outreach, you have to invest same time in putting together a good prospect lists. There are many different ways on how to find the names of your prospects: For example, use LinkedIn to go through your target accounts. These can be companies you already know that you want to meet them. Another way is to contact the organizer of the trade show. Most of them are happy to help you and to hook you up with an attendees list. There are also different groups on social media around the trade show. You will find them if you use the hashtags of the tradeshow or any related one to your industry. All these different sources will nurture your list. Now one of your employees has to go through the list and sort out all the people who doesn’t belong there. You only want your potential clients. Always keep in mind, quality before quantity! It is also a good idea that this person will work closely with the sales team during this process to maximize the outcome. After you got the list with the names and positions of your prospects, you have to find the according email addresses. You can easily outsource that task to a person from Upwork, a freelancing platform online, or you do it yourself.
#3 Prepare your Meetings:
Assuming that the outreach went well and people agreed on meeting you, you have to prepare your meetings now. Everybody from the sales team should get into details about the person whom they are about to meet at the show. They should ask themselves questions like: Who am I going to meet? What kind of opportunity or customer will it be? What do I know about the company?
The time at trade shows is very limited and people are rushing around. Especially CEOs and VPs will grant you a short amount of their time. If you did your homework beforehand, it will not only show the other person that you value them, but also it will help you to lead the conversation and to ask the right questions. By asking the right questions, you will easily identify the prospect company’s problems and sticking points. Then you can offer the right solutions where your product will solve the problems. Identify the gap and fill it!
#4 Treat Booth Visitors the Right Way!
This step is really important for the whole team during the trade show. Give your clients a good experience at your booth and be a great host. In order to do so, everybody of your team should have a clear vision about their role and tasks at the booth. Assign the different task at the beginning. For example, one person should be in charge of welcoming people with a warm smile and to offer a refreshing drink. This is also a good moment to use the badge scanner which you can get from the organizer of the trade show. With this device you can make sure to never let a good contact slip through your net ever again. After scanning, you will immediately know from which company they are coming from, their position in the company and their name. Always remember your client’s name, I can’t stress enough on how important that is! If the person is on your target account list, you can make a smooth transition and introduce them to the sales manager. If the person is not on your target list, you will know the right salesperson to take over the conversation. Don’t forget to take notes after the conversations. These notes make your life way easier after the show and they will also give you a good conversation opener for the follow up messages.
#5 Enforce Follow Ups (Post Event)
After the trade show, following up with the people you met is a crucial step which decides over the success or failure of the trade show. You could have the best trade show ever but if you don’t follow up, you would have no results. Having a strict procedure is key! Prepare your leads in a structured way. We normally have a sheet and a list where we already assign a status to the people we met during the show. This status could be: potential customer, partner or interested in brand or product. However, you can organize them in any cluster which makes sense for you. Based on that, the persons will receive different follow up messages. For example, for the persons who you believe that there is a potential opportunity, they would receive a personal follow up message based on your notes. In addition, for the people you met where no potential opportunity was created, they would receive a standardized thank-you-for-coming-by message. If you do not follow up with the people, the first four steps were for nothing and there will be no return on investment. This fifth step is also very interesting for the marketing team. They should nurture the leads with newsletters to keep up the brand awareness from time to time.
To summarize, trade shows are a great opportunity for every company to meet new prospects and to see what is going on in the industry. Also, if the trade show is done right, it will boost your business. Keep in mind that one of the most important steps is to follow up after the show. These five steps will help you to meet your expectations. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to support and guide you through every stage.
Also, check out our new podcast about that topic and enjoy hearing our lovely voices: The 5 Rules to Trade Show Success.
Stay tuned, more podcasts and blog articles on that topic will follow!
Check out our new FREE ebook "Ultimate Meeting Guide" and learn how to grow your business by getting more (virtual) sales meetings even during coronavirus times!