The Tricks of the Trade-show

How many times have you come away from a trade-show wondering whether it was really worth all the effort?

It is easy to attend or invest in exhibiting at trade-shows and walk away feeling concerned about the investment you made and when you might see a return.

Exhibitions can be seen as a big investment, particularly by a small business, but by investing in the short term, you can reap the benefits in the long term.

What steps can you take to secure more business from events?

To ensure that the time invested is valuable you need to make a plan.

Here are 7 steps which will shorten your sales cycle and help you invest your time most effectively.

Step 1: Work on your 30 second advert

In working with clients one thing is clear, 30 second adverts should be the sharpest blade in our ‘swiss-army knife’ of ‘selling’ techniques.

At a well-attended trade-show you are going to deliver your 30 second advert 100’s of times. You only get one shot to capture their attention and make them want to learn more.

Having a well-crafted 30 second advert is a must for making effective connections at trade-shows.

Learn more about crafting 30 second adverts that work here: :30 or less: How to make a lasting impression; fast!

Step 2: Begin with the end in mind

Stephen Coveys advice is essential.

Why did you decide to attend this particular event?

• Are you selling on site?
• Gathering leads?
• Qualifying leads?
• Launching a product or service?
• Meeting or negotiating with existing customers?

You can’t make your clients and prospects do what you want. You can only manage your behaviour to reach your objectives.

Be clear on what outcomes will make it worth the investment.

If you aren’t completing sales on site, measure qualified conversations, disqualifications and how many agree to a next step with you. You cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Know what actions you are committed to taking, post event, to get the best results and return. Take time out to track and evaluate the events you attend or exhibit at as part of your prospecting mix.

Be clear on what works and what doesn’t.

To get the most from your event attendance, begin with the end in mind.

Step 3: Be clear on your process

To maximise your investment in any event you need a system.

Be clear on what works and what doesn’t.

If you won’t be concluding your deals on site, is your goal to qualify and get an off site meeting with the decision makers?

Is it more time effective to have short initial meetings at the show?

Make sure you decide and share your proposed agenda with the people you meet.

The single biggest reason people stop investing in trade-shows is because they generate little business from them.

The single biggest reason people generate little business from trade-shows is because they do not follow up after the show.

The event doesn’t end when you leave. That’s when the important work starts.

Make sure you follow up with all the leads you’ve generated and all the people you’ve spoken to. Your goal should be to keep your business at the front of your prospects’ minds.

You do this by staying in touch after the event. This increases the chance of converting your leads into sales.

If you are going to send emails to people, make them personal to them.

Staying in touch on a regular basis helps maximise your long-term return from the event.

Step 4: Go for the appointment

Is it a ‘deal making’ event or a ‘lead gathering’ event?

If your event is ‘deal making’ style, start early.

Make sure the people you really want to meet are going to the event. Send them invitations in advance to encourage their attendance.

Dedicate time, in advance, filling your diary with your hot list, the people you know are at the event that you really want to meet.

Have a clear agenda for your meetings. Don’t be afraid of having short ‘meet and greet’ meetings.

Events are a great way to establish an early connection with a contact, that might otherwise be difficult to connect with in the ‘cut and thrust’ of a normal business day.

You may find they welcome the opportunity for a quick word without having to take an hour out of the day.

Is the event more of a ’lead gathering’ style? If so, you still need to be ready to make appointments.

If you have a stand, be prepared for walk ups, and be ready to book appointments with those prospects that qualify for a meeting.

Have your diary to hand, whether digital or paper, know when you are free so you can make it easy to book that valuable time with qualified prospects.

For all meetings, make sure you get mobile phone numbers and email addresses. Don’t just confirm the meeting by email – include an agenda. Send them the meeting as an online appointment request as well

Step 5. Make the date on the spot

Don’t say “I’ll call you next week to fix a time.”

Don’t take “give me a call next week.”

Don’t be the one flicking through your phone to look for a time that works for you both to have that follow up call or meeting.

Have a printed diary with you. If you don’t use a paper diary, then print out your online diaries for the next 2-3 months.

If you can drop an electronic diary invite to confirm the meeting or phone call whilst you are speaking with them. Follow up quickly after the event with an email agenda and preparation for the next meeting.

Selling is a slight-edge sport. This is one simple step in developing faster follow up and not losing momentum.

Our clients tell us that more of those post event calls actually happen because it’s in their prospects diary too.

Step 6. Block time out in your diary

Do you set aside enough time to follow up post event?

Do you factor in the time it takes to get back up to speed when you return to the office?

Block out time in your diary so you can follow up promptly.

Allocate time for next step meetings and calls post event.

Make sure you factor in time to catch up with other work.

If other staff can or will support you in the follow up, make sure they have time blocked out too.

Step 7. Look like you are their because you want to be

Some of my clients work with me specifically because I have seen and met their teams at trade-shows.

Here’s why?

  • Their people were busy on the mobile phones when I visited their stand.
  • Their people were busy chatting to each other when I visited their stand.
  • Their people were nowhere to be seen when I visited their stand.
  • Their people looked like they had a hood put over the head, been thrown in the boot of a car and dragged hostage-like to the event.

If you are going to maximise the number of connections, you make and the relationships you are going to build; tell your face.

Look like you are where you are supposed to be, because you want to be there, you want to meet people and are open for business.

With the right preparation and process, exhibitions provide an excellent platform for building brand awareness and generating sales leads.


I’m David Davies, Managing Director of Sandler Training Thames Valley. Sandler Training is the world leader in innovative sales, leadership and management training.

We are a sales training and business development company. We work with businesses to improve their sales, whether it be quality or quantity.

Typically, we work with business owners and senior professionals who already have a good business, but are perhaps not growing their business as fast as they believe they can or feel that something is not quite right and are unsure what that is.

Often, they tell me that they are really good at what they do, but are not that comfortable ‘selling’ what they do. Some common challenges they share with me are;

• they are confused at the low sales return on their wealth of marketing investments

• they are frustrated at the time they spend on proposals and sales opportunities that never close?

• they are tired up of giving away margin to win new business?

It all starts with a conversation.

If you want to get 90 minutes of my time, at no cost to you, to talk about improving your sales performance, building predictable revenues, successful long-term client retention and creating more profit for your bottom line you can contact me on:

Phone: 0118 969 1752

Mobile: 07773 397810

eMail: david.davies@sandler.com