An exhibition is a great place to make sales – attendees are in buying mode and are there looking for new products and ideas. Research shows that 82% of exhibition attendees have purchasing power, so making the most of exhibiting at an event should reap significant rewards and lead to a lot of sales. So how do you maximise your exhibition sales? Here we have some tips to make sure your next exhibition is a success.

1. Get your strategy right

What is your purpose of attending the event?  A vague ‘to have a presence’ isn’t going to help you achieve sales.  You need to set goals for the event – how many leads do you hope to achieve?  How many direct sales do you hope to get?  Set goals based on the return on investment that you want to achieve. Make sure you account for all expenditures – from space hire and transportation costs through to stand design and staff costs.

2. Have an attention-grabbing stand

An exhibition is your chance to stand out from your competitors, it is one of the only opportunities to market yourself next to your competition.  So you need a stand that will really grab attention.  Large format graphics, bold colours and big fonts are ways to attract attention with your stand.  Making it taller than your neighbours will also make it stand out.  Keep the design simple – too much information will make it look too busy.

3. Make sure your staff are trained

An exhibition is a great opportunity to connect with a prospect in a face-to-face setting.  But nothing is more off-putting to potential customers than seeing bored staff chatting or looking at their phones.  To make the most of an exhibition ensure that your staff are trained in sales techniques.

Ensure they know the product inside out and are prepared to answer questions that might arise.  Maximise the effectiveness of results by pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of your team and allocating appropriate roles.

They should look smart and welcoming, smile and greet visitors.  Then introduce themselves and ask open-ended questions.  Laying it on too thick will put visitors off, no one likes a hard sell, but they must be welcoming. Ban mobile phone usage and eating on the stand and encourage them not to stand around chatting amongst themselves. Standing on an exhibition stand all day is hard work so make sure they have plenty of breaks.

People talking at a Trade Show

4. Have something to attract attention

Having something on your stand to entice visitors is a good idea. This could be a giveaway, drinks or snacks. Using audio-visual equipment to draw attention is also a good idea. Maybe you could have virtual reality software that would encourage visitors to interact with you. Presenting your product will also draw attention. Alternatively, a competition or prize draw is a good way to get more leads.

5. Carry out pre-show marketing

Market your attendance at the event through social media in the weeks leading up to it.  Link up with the hashtag used by the organiser to reach more people.  Call all your customers and prospects and try to set up meetings at the event.  Issue a press release to industry-specific media regarding your attendance.  This will all drive more visitors to your stand.

6. Gather leads electronically and enter them into a database

Lead-gathering software makes taking visitor details much easier, they can then be uploaded onto a database without a lot of time-consuming data entry.  It also avoids the inevitable loss of business cards.

7. Don’t be too quick to judge

Stand staff sometimes make the mistake of judging visitors too quickly and discounting those who don’t look promising. Just because someone isn’t a director or manager doesn’t mean they won’t have the ability to make a purchase. Qualify all visitors properly, yes there may be some who are just there for the freebies and it doesn’t make sense to waste hours on them. But don’t reject those who don’t hold a senior position, they may have the ear of someone who does.

8. Follow up on all leads promptly

Every visitor to your exhibition stand should receive a timely follow-up, ranging from a simple thank-you letter to a visit, phone call or information pack, depending on the quality of the sales lead. To your prospects, the days and weeks following the exhibition define who most wants their business.

Many event organisers make the attendee lists available for a small fee. A quick ‘Sorry we missed you but did you know…’ can create a few new leads and at the very least, give your business additional profile to an industry audience.

Exhibitions provide an excellent way to gather leads and make sales.  Follow these guidelines to ensure your next show provides a good return on investment (ROI).  For help planning your next exhibition call us on 01202 723 500 or email