Businesses go to trade shows to connect with other businesses. Some go to attract more clients, others look to find solutions to their problems, and others try to expand their professional network.
For this article though, we are going to focus on the “gaining more clients” group of trade show exhibitors. Trade shows are extremely valuable to B2B companies as it gives them a chance to get in front of potential clients and pitch their worth. Even freelance workers, with their growing popularity as business solutions, can see a lot of value having a booth at a trade show.
If you are planning to attend trade shows in hopes to gain more clients, here are some best practices (and new tactics) to improve your sales and better qualify your leads.
Attend Shows That Attract Your Target Demographic
Picking the right trade shows can make the difference between mediocre results and complete success. Find trade shows that match the industry you belong in but are also ones your target markets attend.
For example, if your business provides a software solution to other businesses, going to a trade show that focuses on improving your software might not be where you want to set up a booth. Instead, your target market might be attending a trade show on different ways to improve their business’s efficiency.
You also have to choose how large the trade show is, how much of your competition might attend, and the quality of the show itself. If it’s going to be a poorly managed event with unimpressive speakers, you might not want your brand to be associated with it, or even waste your time being at it. Being at the right show can have lasting impressions on people you meet, and help boost your branding.
Have The Ability To Close At The Trade Show
Trade shows fulfill a unique role in the buyer’s journey. Many of the speakers and events can help people identify problems in their business and help pick out potential solutions to those problems. Then, multiple solution providers are in their booths, ready to sell.
Yet, far too often, the team at the booth lets people walk away with vague promises and easy-to-miss appointments. Part of this might be because certain leads aren’t ready to make a purchase right then, and that’s okay. You can follow up at a later date and push for that sale. But some leads might be ready to sign up at the event or immediately after. They might walk away from your business because they could not buy right then and thus go to a competitor.
So, do you have the tools and ability to close at the trade show? First, have all of the paperwork available for leads to sign. It’s possible to even have contracts signed on mobile phones, which allows both parties to walk away with a copy without the need to lug annoying physical paperwork.
An effective sales team at the event needs to also have the autonomy, or at least access to somebody who can, make important decisions on sales. Pumping the brakes on a sale to get approval could result in a lead getting cold feet. Try to cut down on those approval needs and let the team be able to quickly sign up customers.
Materials To Have On Hand
Good handouts and print materials are trade show booth 101. Yes, you should have a brochure about your business, but don’t stop there. Bring inbound marketing tactics to the table with materials that can guide people through your marketing funnel and help you further influence your leads.
Another essential to helping close is proof of your effectiveness. Have printed and shortened case studies, statistics, examples, and whatever you can create that demonstrates your work and effect.
Finally, provide some sort of hook or swag to help draw people to your booth. You can be the most effective business in the world, but if your booth isn’t eye-catching, you won’t make any sales. If you do give out free stuff, make sure it’s unique enough to not get lost in the shuffle, but also actually useful to attendees.
Closing Outside Of The Conference Hall
Trade shows and conferences can get very crowded and noisy. It’s not ideal to make a sale in these conditions. A more controlled environment where both parties can focus and easily understand each other is ideal.
Don’t be afraid to remove yourself and your lead from the distractions. You can take them to dinner, coffee, drinks, or just to a quiet room at your venue. If you are particularly worried about getting a quiet spot, reach out to the organizers to see if you could rent out a small side room to meet with leads.
If you can’t close during the event, try to schedule out chances to meet with strong leads afterwards before they have to leave. That way, they are done with the hecticness of the conference and can better focus on your business and what you offer.
Not every lead will close during the conference. In fact, most probably won’t, because they’ll want to weigh their options and do more research on their own. So, following up is essential to squeeze every sale you can.
Now, more than likely, competitors are also following up, so you need to stand out. Mail a handwritten note, provide a free service designed specifically for them, or impress them in some way or another.
Be sure to also gather the necessary information so you can properly follow up. Get personal information, business name(s), phone numbers, whatever you can. That way, you can have a personal touch with the person you met instead of blindly contacting the business.
One helpful tool for accomplishing this is utilizing a lead capture app like iLeads. It allows you to easily snag information from leads and organize them for future reference. It’s quick, works in the moment, and operates by scanning badge or entering a badge ID number.
Finding What Works For You
Every business has to take a unique approach to market itself. As you go to different trade shows and conferences, experiment and see if different things work in your favor. Gather data like how many leads you get per conference, how many transform into customers, what attracted the most people to the booth, so that you know what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be content to make a single plan for each event, craft specific strategies for each.
Author bio: Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and digital marketer. He believes in helping small businesses succeed in their marketing efforts. When he isn't working, he also writes about education, technology, and video games.Twitter: https://twitter.com/Allen24Ben LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ben-allen-5428618a