Trade show do's for startups

Love them or hate them, trade shows are where you discover new clients. Each show takes time, effort, and money, but if done right, attending one can lead to new business. And while the main focus of these shows is sales, there are also opportunities to build brand awareness, hold customer meetings, gather intelligence, learn, develop strategic partnerships, and meet the press.

Consider this: At a trade show, booth staff can have more than 20 conversations per day with decision makers who are looking for solutions that your company can offer. How long would it take each member of your inbound/outside sales team to schedule that many meetings?

There’s no question that your buyer persona is walking around that show; your challenge is to talk to as many of them as possible and to ask great questions so you and your staff can decide which are potential prospects.

Don’t make the mistake of waiting for the perfect prospect to walk into your booth, and don’t give the same canned, overly long pitch to them when they do. Companies spend tens of thousands of dollars annually to participate in trade shows without ever giving thought to training their staff to improve the quality and number of leads generated from those shows. Remember, high-quality leads do not come because you have a tricked-out booth, or because you give attendees lots of swag or raffle off expensive stuff. Instead, roll some of this money into prepping your staff on engaging attendees, because inside and outside sales are a different animal from the trade show floor. And be sure that they follow up on the leads they’ve developed.

Avoiding the common trade show mistakes that drive up costs and don’t improve your outcomes allows you to make the most of your trade show and ensures a positive ROI.


Read more articles by Michael Spence.

Michael Spence is a speaker, trainer, and business consultant focused on people, performance, and profits. He learned much of what he knows about business and technology by leading a young telecom sales organization to 400% growth and being listed on the Inc 500; everything else he picks up from interviews with business leaders and influencers. Sharing his lessons, Mike trains organizations on managing a multigenerational workforce, soft skills, and sales enablement.
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