Tips for using trade shows to grow sales
"Follow up with prospects within seven to 10 days after a trade show."
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Hi. I’m Tegan Jones for the Wells Fargo Business Insight Series. Today, we’re discussing how to use trade shows to grow your business. Joining me is Melinda Emerson, SmallBizLady, and author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. Thanks for joining me, Melinda.
Hi, Tegan. I’m so happy to be here with you.
Melinda, the great thing about trade shows is they offer huge opportunities to meet new customers. But the time you have at a trade show is limited. So, what are some tips to help businesses make the most of these events?
Well, first of all, I believe that you should walk a trade show the first time you go because making an investment in a booth is a significant expense. So, you want to walk the show. You want to talk to other small businesses that have booths there and find out if they’re really getting return on their investment.
You’ve got to make sure that at least 90% of the attendees are people who are your target customer. If it’s not at least that high, it might not make sense to make the investment. So, you’ve got to research your target customers. And as much as possible, you want to try to set up meetings even before you get to the trade show with prospects that you want to make sure that you get some face time with.
You also want to make sure that you identify any competitors that you want to learn about at the particular trade show.
You’re going to have to make sure that you have materials, as well. You’re going to have to have a handout, probably a one sheet, plenty of business cards.
You’re also going to want to make sure if you’re going to have a booth that, you know, what are your uniforms going to be for you and your staff in your booth, as well as what kind of display.
And always, you want to have something on your trade show table that attracts people to walk up to your table. So, are you going to give away candy? Or are you going to give away a free iPod or iPad? If people walk up and give you their business card, you’ve got to have some little treat or something to entice people to come over to your trade show booth.
And the other thing you’ve got to do is prepare your team. You want to prepare a list of eight to 10 frequently asked questions and a little script because, at the end of the day, you’re at a trade show because you want to generate a sale. And you want to make sure that everybody who is there with you in your booth has the ability to do that, whether you’re standing there or not. So, you want to make sure that you rehearse with your team how to interact with prospects as they come to the booth.
And certainly, if you’re planning on having a booth at the trade show, you want to make sure that you lock down a great location as early as possible, hopefully a booth beside one of the prospects that you want to close while you’re at the trade show.
There’s obviously a lot to do leading up to a trade show. But what should businesses be focusing on once they’re actually at the event?
You want to find out how you’re going to use your booth to make connections going forward. So, you need to make sure that you’re doing a drawing or giving something away or, you know, doing a business card pull so that you have something that entices people.
So, once you’ve met several good prospects, how do you turn those leads into paying customers?
The first thing you want to do is follow up with any contacts you meet on LinkedIn. Then, you want to send them an email or handwritten note, probably within seven to 10 days of meeting them at a trade show.
You want to make sure that you’re using some kind of CRM software for your business so that you can track your communication.
Typically, from the time – depending on your industry – that you meet a contact, it could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months to turn that contact into a contract. So, you want to make sure that you keep in touch, not in a pest way, but that you keep in touch and stay top of mind, make sure that you make a real connection with your contacts, and then follow up because, if you do, you can turn those contacts into contracts for sure.
Those are great tips. Thanks so much for talking trade shows with us today, Melinda.
You’re welcome, Tegan.
And thank you for joining us for this segment of the Wells Fargo Business Insight Series. To learn more about how Wells Fargo Business Banking can help you, visit wellsfargo.com/biz. In the meantime, we wish you continued success.