Ashley McHugh is a senior analyst and trainer at RedRover Sales & Marketing
Your marketing team can go all out before a trade show. They can create a compelling booth design, write informative collateral and come up with exciting giveaways to grab attention.
However, no matter how great your marketing team might be, none of these marketing investments will ever pay off in closed sales--unless your sales team shows up prepared.
If you want your sales team to generate trade show successes, you need to develop a strategy that goes beyond marketing.
First, create a schedule for who will be working at your booth throughout the event.
Ideally, at least two members of your sales team will be there at all times during exhibition hours. If a particularly hot prospect comes to your booth, you'll want one sales rep exclusively focused on building that relationship. If other visitors arrive at the exact the same time, your second rep can play interference.
However, don't tether your sales team to a table all day. Make sure you're giving each sales rep time to hold scheduled, one-on-one meetings with prospects.
If there's a conflict between the booth schedule and a personal meeting with a hot prospect, your sales team should always prioritize the one-on-one meeting. Personal attention is more likely to land to a sale; a quick handshake on the trade show floor probably won't.
Your presence on the trade show floor is important, but make sure you aren't relying solely on your booth to generate connections.
Reach out to your prospects to schedule meetings in advance--even if you don't know them personally yet. Your prospects might not be ready to give you a seat at the boardroom table over the phone, but they might be open to a quick lunch.
Your sales team also needs shared buyer profiles, so they can focus on making connections with the right people. Defined buyer profiles help your sales team know when to work on building a real relationship. It also gives them permission to politely end a conversation when they aren't talking with a true decision-maker.
Before the show, make sure each person on your sales team has a compelling 30-second pitch prepared for people who are unfamiliar with your company. Remember, these pitches need to be consistent with the brand message you want to convey to the decision-makers at this particular trade show.
Finally, make sure your entire sales team has a full understanding of their specific sales objectives. For example, if you typically have a long sales cycle with a complex deliverable, you probably won't close many deals on the trade show floor.
Instead, your team should focus on filling the top of your sales funnel with prospects, knowing that the real work starts when the trade show ends.
Ashley McHugh can be reached at www.redrovercompany.com.