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.