Convert Trade Show Visitors to Revenue

Companies invest thousands in Trade Shows and Conferences. But despite the sums involved, commercial results are frequently disappointing.

Managers and executives often justify the investment (to shareholders and themselves) with comments such as: ‘we need to be seen at (the event)’ or ‘it is hard to quantify what we get out of the event but I’m sure we cover our costs’.

The reality is that it is perfectly possible to quantify results. And it is perfectly possible to get great returns from your investment in Trade Shows.

Attract the right visitors

1. You do not want to attract visitors with acknowledged needs who are looking for solutions.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly. At a trade show the competitive environment is weighted heavily in favour of the buyer. There is a concentration of vendors (other exhibitors) and buyers know it. Visitors who attend trade shows in search of a solution are usually in a later stage of the buying cycle. The trade show visit is used for due dilligence and to beat suppliers up on price.

2. You do want to attract decision makers and influencers with new and interesting insights into their business problems.

The trade show is your opportunity to start building relationships with key players in the marketplace. Rather than simply fill your stand with ‘me too’ products and solutions, use the event to educate the marketplace. Get involved with the lecture programme; provide case studies and get your representatives to talk about business issues rather than product specifications. This will attract individuals and organisations at early stages of the buying cycle. They have yet acknowledge they may have a problem and you are now positioned to influence their buying decsions.

Keep the conversation going

Building relationships with organisations early in the buying cycle has an incredibly positive effect on your sales ratios and margin. But catching people early stage means that you have to keep the conversation going over the longer term. It may be superficially more attractive to discuss the quote you sent to a trade show visitor you just met. But your real returns are delivered when you close that deal with an organisation you have spent time understanding and nurturing. Jonathan Calver’s paper: ‘Converting Trade Show Leads into Qualified Opportunities’ provides insights on how to achieve this cost effectively. His paper highlights where most companies go wrong – and how to fix it. It is well worth the read.

It is important to get Trade Shows right.

You invest significant sums on promoting your business through trade shows. You should be maximising the return on that investment. And whilst we would not suggest you turn away ‘visitors looking for a solution’ (that would be rude), expending too much effort on chasing competitive opportunities with reduced margins just is not sensible. Focus your attention on building relationships for the long term: it will pay dividends.

If you would like Jonathan Calver’s paper on the subject: Click Here

One Response to “Convert Trade Show Visitors to Revenue”

  • Biggles Dunlop:

    In my opinion, this is absolutely right. Trade shows (unless your product/service can be sold off the stand) are to gather names with contact details, qualify them as best you can in the time available and move on to the next. I would never dream of inviting a “prospect” to a trade show where he/she can wander round and see my competitors – in fact I have sometimes benefited in reverse!”

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