Trade shows provide a tremendous growth opportunity for your business but, of course it comes at a high cost. Whether your goals are lead generation, meeting new customers, enhancing relationships with existing accounts or probably all three, give yourself the best chance for making each show a success.
The prep should start long before the show - use our 8 expert pre-show B2B sales tips to ensure you get the most out of your next trade show.
Tip 1 – Get the list of attendees before the show
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to trade shows. Ask the show’s coordinator to arm you with a list of registered attendees, as well as a list of other vendors. Typically, the list will include key contact information of registrants and, if you’re lucky, some additional tidbits about their business.
With list in hand, you can facilitate an entire marketing strategy:
- Import data into your CRM for quicker prospecting
- Send out postcard reminders 2-6 weeks before the show with booth information and promotional messages
- Schedule email campaigns the day before, the day of, and the day after the show
- Pre-qualify leads (if enough information is available)
- Size up your competition
It pays to get the list early, at least eight weeks before. This gives you time to focus your marketing and send out communication letting registrants know to look for you.
Tip 2 – Set your goals
Why do you attend trade shows, and what do you hope to get out of each show? The more specific your answers, the more precisely you can craft your action plan to meet those goals. Some questions to consider:
- What product(s) or service(s) do you want to showcase?
- What customer data do you need to capture, and how will you record it?
- What ROI are you expecting?
- What is your follow up strategy?
- How many impressions do you want to make?
- How many leads or sales do you want to gain during the show?
- How many sales will it take to break even?
If your company wants to exhibit multiple products or services, consider setting separate goals for each one. But don’t try to focus on too many at once. Choose one or two of your offerings to take the spotlight, and keep the others in supporting roles.
Tip 3 – Develop a simple sales process
The key to success in B2B sales is to find a way your product or service will make your customer’s business operations easier, so don’t complicate matters with a difficult sales process. Using mobile order taking apps designed with the sales rep in mind makes it easy to capture customer information and sell right on the spot. There’s no waiting, no processing, and best of all, no letting a hot lead turn cold.
Tip 4 – Give attendees a reason to stop by your booth
In a sea of identical 10×10 spaces, differentiating your booth is paramount. The experts at Inc. recommend staying away from flashy gimmicks and instead offering something of value free to all who stop by. Special pricing or a free gift with purchase to the first 20 customers make great ways to draw in qualified leads. If you obtained the registrant list ahead of time, make sure you include whatever you’re giving away in all your pre-show marketing.
Tip 5 – Prepare something personalized for key people
If you are trying to earn the business of a particular VIP and discover he or she will be in attendance, put together a personalized prospectus tailored to their business and and hand deliver it to them at the show along with your sales order software. You’ll make an exceptional impression when you take the time to show how your product or service fits their specific business needs, not to mention the fact you singled them out amongst the throng of other attendees.
Tip 6 – Perfect your elevator pitch
Can you describe your product or service in a couple sentences that will make people want to learn more? If not, you need to master your elevator pitch. Trade show activity happens in a New York Minute, so you have to be prepared to talk about your company succinctly and effectively to quickly qualify leads and capture interest, whether you’re at your booth, in the lunch line, or riding the elevator.
Tip 7 – Conduct a full-scale dress rehearsal
There’s nothing worse than technology failure on the day of the show, especially when it results from operator error. Make sure everyone on your team knows how to use data capture devices and other electronics. If you’ve automated the process with a mobile sales app, place some test orders before the show starts and monitor the progress from start to finish to ensure all is in working order. Practice builds confidence, and confidence drives sales.
Tip 8 – Secure a speaking opportunity
Getting your name out to as many attendees as possible beforehand plays an important role in your overall success. If possible, request a speaking opportunity to take place during the show. This can be a simple 30-minute informational meeting on a topic related to what you do. This session shouldn’t be used as a sales pitch, but rather a helpful assembly that positions you as the industry expert, which will lend to your credibility. The goal is to get attendees interested enough in what you offer to learn more and have them visit your B2B order portal. Plus, when you secure a speaking engagement, there’s usually plenty of pre-show promotion from the show coordinators that will encourage people to come check you out.
Time to make your next trade show the best ever
Trade shows require a huge investment of time and money, and there’s no guarantee of success. Utilize these tips, start planning early and make sure you have laid the groundwork before showtime arrives and make your next show your best ever. And of course, try out our new trade show app.