Sales and Trade Shows

Trade shows. As salespeople, it seems we either love ‘em or hate ‘em. If you’re a member of the sales team looking forward to a few days of schmoozing and staying in a nice hotel, you probably enjoy the experience. If you’re the sales manager in charge of meeting sales goals and managing a budget to ensure money is wisely spent, you probably don’t.

Being part of a trade show requires both a financial investment and a people one. Are trade shows worth it? It depends. For some companies, skipping a trade show attended by competitors would be akin to skipping your sister’s wedding: You just have to be there. For others, it’s an opportunity to schedule a lot of face-to-face meetings all within a short period of time and in one place. And there are other justifications such as brand awareness, publicity, etc.

Yet too often we see companies spending tens of thousands of dollars to participate in a trade show, then bemoan the lack of leads and closed deals that came out of it. In other words, they didn’t see the ROI they had hoped for.

Being Clear on Your Goals Can Help
And maybe hope is part of the problem. Making a trade show work for you requires advance planning and intensive measuring—starting with your goals. Because, as they say, if you don’t know where you’re going…

If you’re going to do a trade show and you want to make sure you can prove the value of doing so, make sure you’re clear on your goals for the show. What will you measure and how will you determine success both short-term and long-term? How many leads will you need to make it worthwhile, and how many sales later? How long of a timeline will you allow for tracking these metrics? What tool or process will you use to track them?

Is There a Better Way to Meet Your Goals?
If your objective is lead generation and eventually sales, is a trade show the way to do it? Maybe not. It could be spending your dollars in another area would generate better and longer-lasting results.

Here’s something to think about: Maybe you should consider investing in something like improving your team’s sales skills or an effective sales process. What kind of incremental improvements might you see if you had a process in place that increased your salespeople’s productivity? If they were better at qualifying leads? If they knew how to maximize the CRM system?

If you’re not generating an impressive ROI from your trade show attendance, maybe it’s time to skip one this year and invest that money in your people and processes instead. And then you’ll reap the benefits all year long, not just a couple of times per year.

Business group meeting portrait - Five business people working together. A diverse work group.

There are six things you must know before you present a proposal to your prospect.  Your ability to conduct a professional and complete qualification of your prospect during the meetings leading up to this point in the sales cycle will provide you with the answers.  Here are the checkpoints:

1. You understand the prospect’s business objectives thoroughly and are able to provide a satisfactory solution.If you don’t understand the related challenges completely, how can you be sure you can suggest a solution that would be enthusiastically endorsed?

2. The prospect has to do something – it is NOT an option to keep things the same.

If the “status quo” is viable for the prospect, they might very well select that option.  Problems tend to fall into the “fix it” or “forget it” categories.  Unless there’s a compelling reason to change, most find it easier just to do nothing. Find the compelling reason why they’d want to go through the hassle of changing suppliers or implementing something new.  If they can’t present a compelling case for change, they probably won’t change.

3. You have access to the decision maker and will make your presentation to him/her.

A good rule of thumb is never to make a presentation to someone who can’t say “yes.”  It’s that simple.

4. The prospect needs to implement a solution in a time frame that makes sense for you from a business standpoint.Time kills deals.  What’s the point if your prospect doesn’t want to do anything for 18 months?  Too much can happen in the interim to send the deal sideways.

5. You understand the prospect’s selection criteria, and have a reasonable chance of meeting those criteria successfully. What are the top three things they’ll evaluate when selecting a business partner, and why are those things important?  This will give you a good handle on just how good your chances are.  If this is a price driven deal, for example, and you can’t or won’t compete on price alone, why try to compete at all?  It’s a very competitive world out there and your competitors are trying just as hard to win the business as you are.  You’ve got to know their strengths and weaknesses, how they’re likely to react in certain situations, how hard they’ll fight for the opportunity that you’re trying to win.

6. The prospect is considering only a small number of suppliers and is not putting the deal out to every company in the area. Generally, “RFPs” are not the most optimum type of business to win, since price plays such a major role in the selection process and the opportunity to communicate openly with the prospect is often quite limited.  Prospects whose attitude is “the more, the merrier” are more interested in price than a relationship.  Finally, increasing the number of options for the prospect decreases your chances of winning.

John traveled to Sedona to work with a customer at their national sales kickoff meeting. On one of his many hikes, he came across Robert, the flute player. Listen in on this soothing two minute escape for a break in your busy day.


My name is Courtney and I have spent my 13-year career in Sales and Marketing. The majority of that time has been in the scientific lab supply space and the remainder has been building and optimizing digital marketing campaigns for small to medium sized businesses.

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Masters of Business Administration, both from VA Tech and think the two disciplines go together like hydrogen and oxygen.


Marketing with Science is a marketing consulting business I’ve started that brings the structured approach of science to the revenue problems that plague businesses.

Remember “The Scientific Method”? You start with a hypothesis (a statement that you want to test that is a solution for a problem). You test it, collect data, analyze it and either adjust your hypothesis or solve your problem.

I focus on two main areas to create hypotheses and test them:

[1] Target Marketing

  • CLIENT 360 ANALYSIS – Who is your client? Why did they hire you? What do they like? What can be better?
  • BUYER PERSONAS – Who are your customers? What are their attributes, demographics and psychographics? Where do they hang out?
  • CLIENT EXPERIENCE – Are your clients happy? Are they succeeding? Are they using all of your offerings? How might they rate you?

[2] Revenue Process Design

  • YOUR USP – What is your unique selling proposition? What business are you in?
  • MESSAGING – What do your prime prospects want to hear? What might motivate them?
  • SALES STRATEGY – What does your sales effort look like? What should a sales person do?


One could argue that this approach to solving revenue problems would not have been capable 15 years ago. The online space, digital marketing in particular, has provided insight into demographics and behavior unlike anything before.

There are different tools online (Social Media, CPC Ads, email, Content) that, when used correctly provide specific information to solve variables your business faces.


There are a lot of variables that go into your business generating revenue. The more you can identify and define these variables, the better results you get with each go-to-market strategy.

Some examples of revenue-related variables: unique selling proposition, problem you solve, solution you offer, how you present your solution, who benefits from your solution, where they spend their time, target audience (demographics, geography, timing, title, decision maker etc.), etc.

When you need to increase sales, how confident are you in the levers you choose to pull?


Is there really a time when you can’t benefit from learning?

Whether you’re a new business and you don’t have any clients, or you’ve been around for 40 years and sales are maybe, shall we say, stagnant, even if you’re a business that’s established and revenue is rolling in — it’s worth it to understand why. What did you do (either now, in the past or not yet) that got people’s attention?

So if you have a business hypothesis you’d like to test or some variables you’d like to define to spend less, earn more or earn more…faster — let’s talk!



We are excited to be included in the San Diego Business Journal’s 2019 Book of Lists for Top Training Companies for 3 straight years.

If you would like to hear more on how to drive revenue for your business call John today for a conversation at 858-518-7039


We live in a cynical world. Americans trust government and politicians less and less, but it’s not just Washington D.C. that has shaken our confidence. American trust in the media has declined, and even our trust in each other. A study done in 2013 found that almost two-thirds of Americans trusted each other, and we can safely assume our trust levels have declined since then given the political climate of recent years.

The reasons behind that decreasing level of trust in institutions and each other are complicated and sometimes unclear. But the result is the same: People trust less and that makes your job harder, because you need trust to sell.

Sales Requires Trust

Although you didn’t do anything to make the prospect not trust you, it’s still your job to earn that trust. Yes, it seems unfair, but consider this: If you take the time to earn that prospect’s trust and your competitor doesn’t, who will get the sale when that prospect is ready to buy? The person they trust. So be that person.

It’s easier than it sounds because trust is not to be taken lightly. In order for someone to trust you, they must take a risk. And once trust is violated, it’s that much harder to re-establish the trust you’ve lost. You no doubt recognize this to be true in your personal relationships where trust is vital, but it is true in your professional relationships too—especially when you’re in sales.

7 Ways to Earn Trust in a Cynical World

So what are you to do when you’re the victim of a societal drop in trust that’s affecting your ability to sell? Takes steps to be a trustworthy person in the eyes of your prospects. Below are seven ways you can easily do so:

  1. Be genuine. Our days are full of fakes, from the staged images on Instagram to the phony posts on Facebook. Although we’re immersed in social media which in theory means we’re connected to all kinds of people, most of what we see is misleading because people are rarely authentic in such a public arena. The last thing your prospect wants to deal with is yet another poser. So be yourself. Authenticity can’t be faked.
  2. Be a person of integrity. Follow the rules. Be polite to strangers. Say please and thank you. Respect your prospect’s time. Don’t bad mouth other people or companies. Be someone above reproach.
  3. Keep your word and do what you say you’ll do…even if it’s a little thing. If you schedule a phone call for 10:00 a.m., don’t call in at 10:03. If you say you’ll email a document by the end of the day, get it sent, even if you have to stay late to keep your promise.
  4. Ask questions. Ask what you can do for the other person. Ask about their jobs and what they struggle with and wish they could do better or differently. Show a genuine interest in the other person as a person, not a potential sale.
  5. Keep people informed. Let’s say they have placed an order and there is some kind of delay. Let them know about the delay, even if you think it won’t really matter in the long run or the delay seems like a minor issue. It will mean a lot to the customer that you kept them in the loop.
  6. Be kind. This world is sadly short on kindness these days. Be kind even if you get nothing in return for it.
  7. Trust first. Trust requires risk and vulnerability. If you trust first and open yourself up in that way, it will be easier for your prospect to trust you in return.

None of these is an overnight solution to your (and our) trust problem. Rather these are seven “ways of being,” if you will, that you must make daily habits so you’re seen as a trustworthy salesperson all the time, not just when it matters most because money is at stake.

But it’s worth the time and effort, because people buy from people they trust. So be that person…and help to make the world a better, less cynical, place at the same time.

Channel surfing used to mean sitting front of a television with a remote in hand, click click clicking away. But these days, with so many ways for salespeople to make contact with prospects, you might describe channel surfing as switching from one means of communication to another as we try to figure out the best way to reach out to potential customers.

As salespeople in the digital age, we all have the channel we’re most comfortable with. Someone older might prefer the phone while someone younger might reach out directly via LinkedIn. And then there’s someone in the middle who is most comfortable with email. But guess what? What we want doesn’t matter. We as the salespeople have to choose the channel that works for our prospects, not for us.

There are several reasons for this: One, you’ll make a better impression by using the channel your prospect prefers and they will feel more comfortable with you from the start. Two, they’ll be more responsive because they get to respond using that channel. And three, you’re setting the stage for a better experience from the start by putting their preferences first in this way.

How do you know which channel to use for which prospect? You can’t really, although you can make educated guesses. But what you can do is understand the reasons for and against using the three most common channels for contacting prospects, and when one channel might be preferred over another.

Email—for the coldest of cold calls

Although phone calls used to be the primary prospecting tool, email has replaced the telephone as the most common way to reach out to new prospects. On the plus side, it’s less intrusive when compared to a phone call—especially when they don’t know you—and it gives the prospect an opportunity to respond when the time is right for her (or not at all). For the salesperson, it takes less time than a phone call, allowing for more prospecting in a day. In addition, an email can offer links to a website or other information the prospect might be interested in, and they can act on that interest when they want to.

On the other hand, not knowing if a prospect read or even received your email is one of the downsides to this channel. So is the competition you’ll face in that inbox. It would be wonderful if your email was the only one to pop up, but we both know that’s not the case. Your email could be one of a hundred your prospect receives on any given day.

The phone—for the prospect you’ve met before

Although the phone has really fallen out of favor among salespeople as a way to contact prospects the first time, and Millennials don’t want anything to do with making or taking phone calls, a phone call can be effective when you’ve been introduced to someone or been given their name by a referral. So don’t cross it off your list just yet. Plus a you’ll know when a phone call got through—unlike an email—and you can get to know the person on the other end of the line when you do connect with them in a way you can’t digitally. And that’s true of your voicemail message too: You can convey much more warmth and personality in a voicemail than an email!

Social media—get to know someone before reaching out

Then there’s social media, the new way to contact prospects. Social media might be the best channel if you’re trying to reach someone who is obviously active in that arena, with plenty of followers and a lot of time spent on the platform. In addition, using social media—in particular LinkedIn—gives you a chance to get to know that prospect and even connect with them in advance of reaching out.

With social media, you can comment on a discussion they’re part of or an article they’ve published, join the industry group they’re most active in, and make yourself visible. That way when you reach out the first time, they will already know who you are—and you’ll know about their business and pain points!

On the other hand, social media is probably an ineffective way to contact someone who has never heard of you or your business, because we’ve all been on the receiving end of those messages. And is there anything less “social” than a total stranger messaging you directly in that way?

Keep in mind the context and connection

When choosing a channel, keep in mind the context and the connection you have thus far. Email might be best for the coldest contact, a phone call could work for someone you’ve been introduced to, and a social media connection can work if you’ve built some kind of rapport online already.

Then you can stop surfing, and simply choose the channel that works best for each prospect right from the very start!

At this point you now know if you made your revenue plan or not for 2018. It’s onwards and upwards into summer and now time to take a look at how well your customer facing team is equipped to meet the challenges ahead.

We have looked at the quantitative components that Management assesses to identify the producers from the laggards; how you answer the following questions will help determine what skills your sales professionals need to master and execute on a regular basis to meet and exceed plans.

See if you can match the question posed with the corresponding sales skill (answers at the bottom of the article):

  1. How many of the qualified opportunities in your current sales pipeline were initiated by the seller?
  2. What title(s) most commonly appears in the field for primary point of contact? Is that a decision maker’s title?
  3. How well matched are your company’s product (service) capabilities with the prospect’s business objectives?
  4. What value (outside of product/price) will the prospect’s organization be able to identify while working with your company?
  5. How far into the prospect’s evaluation period of a sale will they engage with a seller?
  6. Who in your sales team held the margin line in the negotiations, and who caved to the buyer’s pressure?

How well can the individuals on your teams execute each skill? And if they need additional coaching to be proficient (most do), can their Sales Manager provide tools and techniques to improve? Our customers benefit from a customized sales process that is embedded into a reporting tool that allows for real time review and updates.

By using the questions above, and analyzing the answers, managers identify who has the skills and who doesn’t, and reflects what skills need to be worked on. This is how your qualitative analysis of skills can be analyzed in relation to the quantitative assessment.

We work with a company that calculated the cost of every sales call at $400.00. They discovered that many of the calls were to prospects that would never produce enough revenue to cover the cost of the calls made required from start to finish (1 through 6 above). The managers were then tasked to analyze how well the reps could execute each step, and identify where the coaching was required. As a result, the reps’ overall skills improved, the amount of time spent on the wrong prospects was reduced and revenue results increased with fewer overall calls being made. In essence, the focus is on the quality of the calls versus the quantity of calls conducted.

And as promised, here are the skills that match each question above: 1) New Business Development 2) Accessing Key Players 3) Qualification and Positioning 4) Establishing Value 5) Opportunity Management/Forecasting 6) Negotiation.


This guest article was written by our colleague and friend, Brian Tracy. It is the first in a series.

Did you know that the most important thing you can do to ensure success is to take control of the suggestive elements in your environment?

What do I mean by that?

I mean, make sure that what you are seeing and listening to is consistent with the goals you want to achieve.

Listen Your Way to Success

Listen to educational audio programs in your car. The average person drives 12,000 to 25,000 miles per year which works out to between 500 and 1,000 hours per year that the average person spends in his or her car. You can become an expert in your field by simply listening to educational audio programs as you drive from place to place. It literally is your education on wheels.

Take Courses in Your Field

Attend seminars given by experts in your field. Take additional courses and learn everything you possibly can. Learn from the experts. Ask them questions, read their books, blogs and articles, and listen to people with proven track records in the area you want to be successful.

Get Around the Right People

Associate only with positive, success-oriented people. Get around winners. As we say, fly with the eagles. You can’t fly with the eagles if you keep scratching with turkeys.

Get away from the go-nowhere types and above all, get away from negative people. Get away from negative coworkers. If you’ve got a negative boss, seriously consider changing jobs. Associating on a regular basis with negative people is enough to condemn you to a life of underachievement, frustration, and failure. Associate only with positive people. Always.

Visualize Your Goals

The last thing before you go to sleep and the first thing in the morning, think about and visualize your goals as realities. See your goal as though it already existed.

Your subconscious mind is only activated by affirmations and pictures that are received in the present tense. See your goal vividly just before you go to sleep. And see yourself performing at your best. Visualize the situations that you’re facing working out exactly the way you want them to. And guess what… if you do this, 9 times out of 10, things will turn out in your favor.

Feed Yourself Mental Pictures

See yourself living the kind of life that you want to live. Picture yourself with the kind of relationships, the kind of health, the kind of car, the kind of home you really want.

Visualize just before you fall asleep at night and when you get up in the morning. Those are the two times of the day when your subconscious mind is most receptive to new programming, so use this to your advantage. Feed your mind with positivity and mental pictures that will aspire you to greatness.

Action Exercises

Here are two things you can do, all day long, to keep your mind and emotions focused on your goals and financial success:

First, listen to audio programs in your car and when you travel around. Continue feeding your mind with a stream of high-quality, educational, motivational material that moves you toward your goal.

Second, resolve to associate with positive, optimistic people. Get around winners and get away from negative people who criticize, condemn and complain.

This can change your life as much as any other factor.

To Your Continuous Positivity,

Brian Tracy


Come visit today.