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Going to a Trade Show? Leave the Gimmicks at Home and Get Down to Business

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English: A "one free internet" coupon. To be given to winrars.

It’s pretty tough being in the sales business and not having to attend a trade show or two in the run of a year. It’s all about wheeling and dealing, schmoozing and boozing, and trying to outshine the competition.Trade shows exist on a spectrum from the Las Vegas extravaganza to the Springfield county fair. No matter the size and scope of an event there’s a few things that never change for most sales professionals…


  • really, really long days
  • really sore feet 
  • lower back pain
  • a varying degree of daily hangover and searing indigestion
  • plus  lock jaw from reeling off the same spiel for three straight days

Outside of the trade show organizers themselves, it fair asking yourself “who’s really making money?

There’s a number of huge challenges associated with the average trade show beyond the costs and logistics. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the herd? How do you actually measure an ROI? What kind of real impact does attending an event have on your sales results? The odds a very high there’s a lot of poorly qualified leads to sift through. Consider the process and time involved in sorting through the stack of business cards, and contact information. the follow-up need, and in many case actually having to re-qualify everyone. 

All those trade show eyeballs, phoney grins, false platitudes, back slapping, and pithy small talk are generally aimed at grabbing whatever swag you’re giving away, or hoping they’ll stuff enough entries in the daily draw box and win that cool new bluetooth headset. All of this adds up to how many dollars in profitable sales? Unfortunately. often the answer is “I don’t really know”; or “we’ll know over the next couple of quarters;” and the conversation is always topped off by the empty  qualifying statement; “but we got tons of exposure!”

The challenge for your sales organization is making the trade show an actual sales event and not simply a marketing fashion show. Fattening the bottom line most assuredly trumps just feeling skinny as you sashay down the runway. What’s your strategy for getting people to sit down and place an order now? How many pre-qualified prospects have you booked appointments with for the express purpose of getting a deal done before everyone jets for home? Are you actually in the position to make a sale? If so, then how are you going to accept payment? How are you going to fulfill the order? Amongst all the chaos, how are you going to ensure you’ve won a happy new client?

Remember you’re not investing considerable company resources attending trade shows to give stuff away and collect a stack of business cards. Ask for orders, don’t ask if people like your free trinkets and beads. Loved The Sales Heretics take on the trade show candy bowl. Here’s a thought, if you’re putting the importance of the candy bowl selection ahead of the sales process “cut it out!”  

  • Alexandra Skey

    Agreed!

    I don’t understand why people go to events, but spend most of the event on their phone instead of talking to each other.

    A

  • Alexandra Skey

    one last time to test

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