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Trade Show Success Strategies – Make it happen in 2016!

Trade shows are often one of the biggest line items in the marketing budget. They take time, money and a lot of effort.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you:

Trade show budget: $15,000

Sales people involved: 4

Time invested in planning & set up: 15 hours

Return on Investment – ZERO. Sure you have a fish bowl full of business cards, but after 6 months nothing solid is showing up in the pipeline.

Frustration sets in.

Here is why your Trade Show ROI is less than stellar:

  1. There isn’t a defined game plan or strategy. Salespeople aren’t prepped on what to do and how to do it. What are your objectives? Is it branding? Selling product? Getting leads for the sales team?
  2. Your sales team isn’t stoked about working the floor. You need to get the team’s buy in, and show them you are invested in them! Get them excited to Sell!


  1. Sales people don’t understand the difference between a real prospect and someone who just wants free stuff from your cool booth. Wasting too much time on the later will never be profitable. Your sales team needs to be able to identify the good from the bad and most importantly they need get a definitive answer of interest – even if it’s a NO.
  2. Sales people sit behind a table and don’t reach out to passersby – they don’t interact and ask questions of the potential buyers. If your booth folks seem too “sell-y” it will be a turn off.  They need to have control of the situation without being pushy. Sales 101. Find the PAIN!
  3. You don’t have a cool booth – or something that will draw people to you. Think of the last time you walked around a trade show floor…where did you go? See number 3 – the fancy booth and cool stuff will only get them there. People buy from people, not trade show fanciness!
  4. Trade Shows are fast moving – your sales team needs to react quickly and think fast. Have more than one person at all times on the floor. Know your target market and focus on them.
  5. Lack of follow up Perhaps the biggest reason Trade Shows have low ROI is because the sales person doesn’t follow up. After the show ends and everything is packed away is when the true work begins. Here’s what should happen: Leads get entered into the CRM, they are qualified, sorted and prioritized. Phone calls made, literature sent out, e-blasts created.   In the end, your sales person has to ask for the sale and close it. That sale won’t happen if those business cards from the fishbowl end up at the bottom of a shipping box will they?


Let’s get your team ready before they hit the trade show floor in 2016!


Susan Powers

Partner, Sandler Training

Phone: (203) 264-1197
Fax: (203) 262-1409

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