By Rena Patton

The economy has placed everyone under a great deal of stress and strain every dollar counts and no matter what the sales and marketing channel we are using, increasing sales revenues and return on investment is crucial. Trade shows are a channel within which billions of dollars are generated in this instance, it is imperative that businesses make decisions based upon value and not cost.

Trade shows attract qualified prospects that are looking to do business and have definite needs which they are looking to satisfy imminently or within the short-term, typically within 6 months. Selling to trade show prospects means you are dealing with potential customers who are much closer to making the final buying decision than is usually the case when you are cold selling through other marketing channels.

The initial problem is to attract attendees to your trade show display so that you can capture information and interact with them. For this you will need a good quality trade show display with well-trained booth staff and excellent promotional tools; however this is all a prelude to getting attendees to discuss business with you.

The major issue is turning these trade show prospects into hot customers and cold hard cash.

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Do not forget the usual selling principles first qualify your prospects. This applies at trade shows as anywhere else, and to be effective you need to identify the hot leads who want to do business now. This is one instance where technology to track your contacts can be very useful so check with trade show management just what solutions they have in place for lead retrieval and scanning attendee badges. If management doesn t have a solution, create one yourself paper and pencil will do if necessary, though you can be more effective with some form of data capture which integrates with your Contact Management System.


Your contacts need to be prioritized, even if it is a basic ABC or hot, warm, cold, you need to prioritize in order to best direct selling efforts. You also should have a procedure in place to deal with prospects who wish to buy now and there will be occasions where attendees are intent on doing business there and then, though most are likely to want follow up post-trade show.

Hand Off

Your leads are hotter than they are going to be now make sure they are distributed to the sales team for follow up as soon as possible. It is imperative that all leads are followed up promptly and it is doubly important that leads which have been advised and agreed to follow up, or a follow is being done at their request, get the call, get the literature and have sales meetings arranged swiftly and promptly.

Maintain Contact with Prospects

As soon as possible after the trade show, send an email thanking the attendees whose contact information you have accumulated. Auto responders are good for this, though try to personalize them as much as is practical and possible. Use a series of emails to supplement the trade show follow up and integrate responses with the sales team for prompt action.

About the Author: Rena Patton is the president of ExhibitWholesale, a leading provider of

trade show displays

and accessories such as

pop-up displays


banner stands

. ExhibitWholesale can be found online at: .


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