Missing trade shows and their leads? Read: 18 Ways to be productive when you can't exhibit

How to use trade shows to convert dream clients into real ones

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Posted by , 29th November 2016

Dream Clients: How to use trade shows to convert dream clients into real ones

It’s rare to meet a business owner who doesn’t have a “dream client list.”

These are clients they dream about their business winning.

The game-changers.

The clients a sales team will go out and celebrate over when they win a contract.

In all the years I sold trade show participation to exhibitors, I was never once asked by any of them if companies like these attended the shows I was selling.

And yet, in all modesty, I was hugely successful at my job.

That was because I always asked who those companies were for my prospective clients.

When I showed would-be exhibitors, even the most sceptical, the companies that attended our event from their dream businesses and others like them, I always made a sale. 

Dream Client strategy: How does this help exhibitors?

Use the same strategy in reverse to select the right events for your business. 

Always ask your organiser specific questions about the attendance to the show

If I wanted to sell a stand, I would personalise the attendance for the company I was pitching.

Highlighting job titles; quantifying numbers attending from individual target (dream) companies made the attendance real to my prospective exhibitors.

They weren’t just looking at bland stats anymore.

Suddenly, the thousands of attendees our brochures trumpeted were visualised as real, living, breathing individuals and not some amorphous, group.

Instead, the attendance became people that could be reached and pitched.

The critical thing to note is you can get the same information from your organiser if you ask for it.

Do trade shows hatch new beings?

Which brings me to the importance of pre-show marketing when it comes to engineering significant sales breakthroughs and, a curious mindset among some exhibitors I have met.

In their eyes, it was as though trade show organisers could hatch or “magic-up” completely new beings. 

People that came into existence only to attend the shows we ran. 

It can be the only reason that stopped those typically proactive marketers from taking promotional action pre-show.

The very time they should have been contacting their clients, past clients, and prospective clients, they did little or nothing to promote their presence.

They weren’t thinking clearly about how to use events as a means for interaction with their list of prospective customers.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Reasons most commonly quoted for lack of pre-show activity;

  • “That’s the organiser’s job.”
  • “We just didn’t think it was necessary.”
  • “We will be meeting lots of people at the show.”

Yes, you will meet people, but you don’t have to wait until the show opens to start a conversation.

Those “brand new” specimens have already hatched.

They are out and about in the world, including the mystical individuals about whom you’ve been dreaming.

Try to start a conversation with them before you get to the show. 

Your prospects are the show’s prospects too

Trade shows are a simple business; they bring buyers and sellers together. 

Events are platforms that generate vast amounts of publicity in advance of opening.

Organisers invest heavily to attract the best possible attendance to their events because the audience is their product.

They take ads in trade mags; build websites; organise conference and seminar programmes; publish masses of content; email thousands of buyers; hire PR agents and run social media campaigns designed to raise the profile and attendance to their event.  

All of this activity creates a wave of interest and your company can benefit from it.

Do that pre-show by marketing your business.

Quite simply, not utilising all of this market interest, means you will be missing a massive opportunity to set-up meetings and interactions at the show.

Organisers are targeting the same people as you. Use that to your advantage. 

When you take part in a trade show, you will undoubtedly meet people and businesses your company has never dealt with before. It’s is one of the big attractions of shows for exhibitors when it comes to developing new business.

But, you also have the opportunity and an excellent reason to;

  • contact your current clients
  • re-ignite dormant clients
  • get closer to your hot prospects
  • speed-up your slower-burn leads
  • meet your would-be distributors
  • cultivate those crucial media contacts and  journalists

Trade shows and databases work beautifully together

If you work in a start-up, a trade show is going to help you build a database of prospective and confirmed clients quickly.

I know many exhibitors who use trade shows as the only form of marketing to build their enterprises. 

They have never advertised, never conducted email or telemarketing campaigns; have done very little with social media and yet, shock, horror; their businesses have thrived none the less.

Has your business been trading for some years?

Do you already have an extensive list of clients?  

Good for you. Exhibiting will keep your database, your sales building block, up to date.

People move jobs. They may join other companies or get promoted, their job titles change.

They may move locations; get married; their companies may acquire others.

They might also start businesses. 

All these changes affect your data; the information your business relies on to develop relationships with those hoped-for dream clients. 

If you don’t have a healthy Target Account List, we can fix that for you; click here. 

The most active and interested companies attend trade shows

Trade shows attract the most active and interested specifiers in a market to their shows.

Anyone making an effort to travel to an event is highlighting they are on the hunt for something.

They may have a problem to solve, a deadline to meet, an unexpected order to fulfil. Attending is about finding solutions. Theirs is a buying frame of mind.

And guess what; many of these active buyers will be the very same people to whom your business markets throughout the year.

They will be people and businesses that are in your sales database, your CRM system or on that dream list of clients that you keep somewhere.

They will be from enterprises you would like to know much better. 

The bottom line is that trade show attendances consist of real people.

Reach out to them and sell to them. Invite all to your next event.

Stop dreaming and start converting.

Here’s a related strategy you can use with trade shows as suggested by Entrepreneur Magazine.

For more on sales development; Read this related article 

Posted in B2B Marketing  /  Event Marketing  /  Events  /  Trade show marketing

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