One of the most popular avenues to generate leads is trade shows. Hundreds, if not thousands of prospects all in the same place, and potentially looking for your solution. During the trade show are opportunities to meet with colleagues for networking opportunities. It’s a perfect storm of getting in front of people, building relationships, and then leveraging those relationships into generating revenue.

There is a downside: trade shows are expensive. Companies spend thousands of dollars every year on tradeshows, and most leave money on the table. It’s not that trade shows aren’t effective at bringing in revenue – it’s that companies aren’t optimizing for a positive ROI:

Problem #1: You Don’t Know Who is Attending

Before a show, organizers will name drop companies who are going. As exciting as this is, organizers don’t release the list of attendees. The problem with this is that sales reps don’t set appointments with companies – they meet with the people who work for those companies. Not knowing who within the organization to target makes it impossible to get in front of the right person.

The solution for this is doing your homework well before the show. Outbound marketing will help identify key people attending to get in front of. Create a list of people who could potentially go to the trade show. Send several short emails to these people before the show asking for a meeting.

Increase Trade Show ROI

  • Send the first email a month before the show. Remember, short emails are key here. Mention the show, who you help and what you do. Then ask what times during the show would work to meet with the prospect.
  • Two weeks before the show, reach out again. This time, mention specific competition you’re working with and again ask for the appointment. The more appointments set during the show, the more likely you will see conversions from leads.
  • The week before the show people are more serious about creating plans around their itinerary. It’s now time to break out the big guns. Mention your CEO and again ask to set the meeting. Set meetings at “off-times.” By setting appointments at times like 10:35, or 2:50 the prospect has travel time to get from one event to the next and doesn’t have to miss a presentation they are looking forward to.
  • Don’t let up while the show is going on. Decision makers will be checking their emails during the shows. Email again, asking if they are present at the show and suggest a time to meet mentioning how you’re helping a comparable company solve a problem they are likely facing.   

Problem #2: Powerless Visitors

The next common problem results from not being able to get in front of the decision maker. More often than not it’s the “NoPos” that walk into your booth. “NoPo” is short for people with no power. For people to do anything, they have to be both willing and able. Don’t get discouraged dealing with people with no power.

Use this to your advantage. Now that you have your foot in the door,look through the organization charts to identify your contact’s boss. Your original contact could be passionate about your solution, but they aren’t the sponsor. They don’t have access to the depth and breadth of knowledge you do. Take control of the sale and reach out. Call the decision maker and find out if the company is in the market for your product.  

Problem #3: Ineffective or Minimal Follow-Up

Now the trade show is over. The work is still not done. Enter the leads into your CRM and make sure add all relevant notes. For companies that aren’t quite ready to buy, create alerts to keep up to date on any company news. Once the alerts are in place, watch for buying signals. Signals showing expansion or new leading executives are excellent signs the company is growing and ready to spend money.

The large amount of work before, during, and well after the event are what drive success at trade shows.

One solution DiscoverOrg offers is OppAlerts. OppAlerts delivers the actual content prospects are researching online. This real-time data is key to identifying interest prospects have in a particular category (like cybersecurity, lead generation, big data, etc…), even if the company hasn’t released an RFP for that solution.

DiscoverOrg has a unique relationship with over 250 B2B publishers, who feed our OppAlerts tool with massive amounts of content consumption data, allowing you to identify the right person at the right company with the right message to shape their vision for your solution.

The large amount of work before, during, and well after the event are what drive success at trade shows. By hustling before the show opens up, you should be able to gain insight into the specific people who will be attending and set demos/appointments during the show.

Don’t get bogged down into sinking time and energy with people who don’t have the authority to make purchasing decisions. Identify who has the power to buy and start working with them. If the company is not currently in the market, set up alerts to get pulled back into the conversation when they are ready.

Looking for more help on trade shows? Check out the Ultimate Trade Show Toolkit.

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About the author

Theresa Potratz

Theresa is a Social Media Specialist with additional experience in creative communications and strategy.