Your Super Bowl is the next trade show your staff attends. The trick is to get focused on the right people, select the right shows and establish the game plan. You don’t want to get 100 touchdowns; two or three are often all that’s needed to win.

Which would you rather have: 500 mediocre leads or 25 – 30 high value leads? The answer is obvious. Yet many exhibitors who attend trade shows try to talk to as many people as possible, and then go back to the office with a fist full of business cards and say. “See what I accomplished.”

The cost of following up on these so-called business leads is enormous and it leaves your sales reps often disheartened with the number of rejections they receive. The solution is three fold:

  • Set focused objectives
  The success of your exhibit program hinges on your strategic approach. The first step is to focus your efforts on a single purpose. Clearly articulate what you want to achieve from your exhibit program. This objective helps you establish the metrics you will ultimately use to measure your success. But it is not enough to just say your objective is to collect high value unless you also clearly identify the profile of what a high quality lead looks like. In a world filled with highly specialized channels of communication, trying to be everything to everyone is faulty thinking.
  • Select the right shows
  Our discussion of profile helps you select the right shows and events. Talk to the show organizer of the event you are targeting and learn who the delegates are. This will be based on previous year’s attendance or perhaps those who have pre-registered for this year’s event. Look carefully and see if there is a match between the potential audience and the profile you have created. Will there be sufficient targeted people to justify your exhibit decision? All too often exhibitors choose their shows by the sheer volume of attendees. The problem with this approach is the thesis of our discussion: quantity versus quality.
  • Train your staff on how to mine the show for high value contacts.
  Suppose that you have chosen a show and upon in-depth investigation you discover that ten percent of the expected audience fits your profile. If you don’t equip your staff with the necessary tools to differentiate the ten percent that you have identified from the ninety percent who are outside your area of interest, they will waste lots of time talking to people who can add little value to your strategic exhibit plan. 

Your training initiative should include setting clear, focused, and measurable objectives for each of your booth staff. This should include a detailed description of the profile of those high-value contacts and the skills your staff needs to do their job efficiently and effectively. The best tool you have at your disposal is the use of a pre-show/event briefing. This can be done on-site immediately prior to the show opening, on-line a few weeks prior to the show, or as part of a sales meeting or conference call. The choice is yours.

Attempting to reach well-established goals without giving people the right tools is tantamount to disaster. An NFL coach whose team is playing in the Super Bowl assembles the team just before game opening, reviews the plays, the opponents, and the field and then leaves the players with a final word of encouragement to excite their emotions. So when the enter the playing field, they are primed and pumped and ready to meet the challenge.

© 2011 by Barry Siskind