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For a trade show to be profitable, you need to create a systematic tradeshow plan. As an exhibitor you have just made a substantial investment. Just add up the cost of salaries, exhibit space, travel, food and lodging and you’ll see that a little preparation will help you realize a substantial return on investment.

1) Set Goals – Going into a show you must have written goals. Showing up because your competitors will be attending, is not a goal. Acquiring new customers is a goal. Regaining lost customers is a goal. Apply quantifiable measures to each of these goals, like $50,000 of sales revenue from prospects over the next 3 months after the show.

2) Collect Qualified Leads – It is not as hard as you think to collect qualified leads at shows. The key is to set qualifiers pre show into your lead retrieval device. Those serious about lead generation need to utilize software post show to filter leads. To turn your leads into sales it is important to develop and stick to a sales process. Don’t leave your prospects buying decisions to chance. Effective follow-up with electronic leads management software is required if you are going to meet ambitious goals.

3) Evaluate your show ROI – It is very important to create reports of your tradeshow results using powerful lead management software. Track your leads using closed loop marketing system so data can be exchanged between sales and marketing, and customers can be tracked throughout the sales cycle. With the right technology in place there is a free flow of information that reveals who the customers are and how they like
to be sold. This information will determine if your company should exhibit at this show again and if your leads turned into real sales.

Bonus Tip: Also, remember the leads that do not pan out following this year’s tradeshow should not be thrown to the scrapheap. Many of the same folks will attend the show year after year. Some will move up within the company - they will become decision makers. Others will move on, seeking more fertile pastures. While your product did not go over at their previous organization, it might be just what their new company needs. You never know, your dead lead may prove to become a decade plus customer.

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