Turning visitors into onsite leads at a trade show exhibit

Participating in a trade show exhibit can be a costly endeavor for a company, yet many companies fail to utilize the potential of the exhibit to generate good leads. According to research by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 86% of attendees represent new prospects. If the visitors are properly qualified, many could become potential customers or clients at a cost lower than the average field sales call.

Kick Off the Buying Process

In business purchasing, impulse buying is not a factor as it is in consumer sales. It takes an average of 5.1 calls to close a sale to the average business contact. This is not surprising given the number of approvals often needed from different levels of an enterprise to sign on a new vendor. The expo could be the first step in the process and reduce the number of additional calls, visits, and meetings that take place before an agreement to buy.

When setting up a trade show exhibit and sending staffers to work the booth, a smart firm will make sure that its representatives maximize their time interacting with booth guests. While 76% of salespeople regard the value of an event lead to be equal to a cold call, research by CEIR and others illustrates that if a company selects the right industry events to attend and has clear objectives and strategies for capturing leads, then gathered leads will be much more valuable.

In contrast to a lead found by field sales, the average cost per lead is $308 as compared to $212 from a trade show lead. Whereas it costs $1,140 to close an average lead, closing an event lead costs $705. Since as CEIR maintains, 82 to 83% of exhibit visitors have buying power, the exhibit floor is the perfect place to start the sales dance that might ordinarily take place in a prospect’s office or over lunch. The average attendee spends more than 9.2 hours over the course of a two- or three-day event that they are attending for the expressed purpose of making contacts and scoping out suppliers.

Turning Visitors Into Onsite Leads At A Trade Show Exhibit

How can an exhibitor best take advantage of this group of motivated potential buyers? There are two main ways to be prepared to capture their attention and start the sales process.

First, the trade show exhibit itself should be compelling. Some exhibitors use industry events to introduce products with new glitzy features they think visitors will like, but what they are really interested in are the benefits of a product or service. Everything from the back wall, to the banners, to the literature on display should stress how the customer would be better off with this product than with others they may have seen.

Second, those who staff the booth should be well prepared to meet and talk with attendees who drop by. A casual “Hi, how are you? Can I help you?” won’t do the trick. In anticipation of approaching contact with visitors as they would in a sales call, representatives should be prepared with specific questions.

These might include:

  • What brings you to this event?
  • What type of products are you currently using?
  • Who makes it? How is it working for you?
  • What do you need that your current product is not doing?

When booth workers are prepared to conversationally probe visitors about their needs and note what they say, as they would in a regular office call, they have taken the first step in creating a relationship. Once the trade show exhibit is over, the team can use the information to further move the lead along in the sales process.

Leave a Comment