Conferences, trade shows, forums or seminars; whatever the ‘event’ is being billed as, my clients are preparing for the fall season.  Just as the marketing department does their work, sales needs some solid strategies to generate qualified leads.

Essential Steps for Sales Preparation:

  1. Decide if the trade show/conference offers the value you seek.
  2. Set your sales goals for the event.
  3. Decide on the highest value sales activities to complete prior to the show. (See Strategy One below.)
  4. Decide on the highest value sales activities during the conference. (See Strategy Two below.)
  5. Decide on the highest value sales activities following the event. (See strategy Three below.)
  6. Debrief: goal attainment, value of activities, learning for next time.

Strategy One: Before the Event

Research conference topics and featured speakers.  Why?

  • Learn about topics that are top-of-mind for your prospects.
  • Learn about industry trends.
  • Start to build your executive target plan.
  • Build a compelling communication (e-mail) that can be used with prospects as a touch point and also to line up trade show meetings, referrals, and follow-up.
  • Contact the event organizer to ask about additional information on specific speakers or programs and/or information about attendees.

Create a buzz.  Why?

  • Send a message about the event to all LinkedIn/social media contacts and other business groups.
  • Are they attending? What topics are of interest to them?  Mention that you will be there.  Can they stop by your booth or set a time to meet?  What might be the most interesting to them in terms of a post event de-brief?

Prepare event goals.  Why?

By approaching the show with clear goals you will be on a sales mission!

Goals can be set in the following areas:

  • Number of leads or new contacts
  • Number of qualified leads
  • Number of industry expert contacts
  • Number of possible referral partner contacts

To help you accomplish your goals, create a target list for each of the areas above in advance of the show. For example, targeting speakers, conference sponsors who might attend net-working events, or key executives who might be helping to host booths during the conference, can become executive contacts.

Strategy Two: During the Event

Attend as many sessions as possible:

  • Reinforces investing in your expertise
  • Material for post event DE-brief
  • Opportunity to meet speakers
  • Opportunity to meet people sitting around you

Attend all the networking events offered:

  • Refine your questions, stories and value propositions to make the most out of all conversations

Work the Booth:

  • Develop 2-3 compelling questions: What are your company’s biggest problems that brought you to the show? What is the best thing you’ve learned at this show so far?  Why?
  • Work in a mention of your references if they have common business challenges.
  • Go beyond leaving the door open for a follow-up by suggesting a specific next step.

Refine and use a system to collect leads:

  • Make sure your system allows you to make notes, especially for qualified contacts

Strategy Three: After the Event

  • Re-connect with the LinkedIn/social media contacts with an offer to share some type of ‘value add’. (Show debrief, session debrief, etc.)
  • Develop a White Paper based on learning or takeaways.
  • Follow up on all qualified leads within 48-hours. (The 48-Hour Rule™)
  • Host an event to continue the momentum of the conference at your office. For example, host a lunch-and-learn series.
  • Share learning with others in your organization.
  • Conduct a trade show debrief.

Good luck!  You should ‘Ring the Bell’ if you accomplish your trade show goals!

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About Lisa Magnuson:

Lisa Magnuson is an expert in corporate strategic sales and TOP Line Account™ revenue building. As a respected sales consultant and author, Lisa works with clients to build successful strategic sales programs that drive revenue from large new accounts and enable growth from existing high value customers. Learn more at www.toplinesales.com.