These statistics from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) revealed the following about trade shows:

88% of attendees have not been seen by a member of your company’s sales staff in the preceding 12 months

Seven out of ten attendees plan to buy one or more products

76% asked for quotes and 26% signed purchase orders (average all shows)

72% of show visitors say the show influenced their buying decision

87% of attendees will share some of the information obtained at an exhibition

64% of attendees tell at least 6 other people about the event

58% attend only the show in which you are exhibiting

40% are first-time attendees

It costs 22% less to contact a potential buyer at a show than it does through traditional field sales calls

However, while trade shows are certainly worthwhile, they are not easy. To get the most out of trade shows, exhibit marketers set measurable objectives, pick suitable shows, design effective exhibition stands, and more. Read on to discover the main elements of a successful trade show marketing program.

Train your exhibition staff

At trade shows 85% of the positive feelings visitors have are due to the staff. Your exhibition staff are responsible for drawing in your potential customers/clients, effectively engaging them and creating leads. Because of this, it is important that you select the most effective staff that your company has to offer. If they are sales people, you have to train them to adapt their selling style to the trade show floor. If they are not salespeople, they can still do extremely well, given the proper preparation.

Trade show staffing is uncomfortable for almost everyone at first! You will give your staff greater comfort and confidence by training them to understand and follow a 4-step staffing process:

    1. Engage

30 seconds. Start the process by stopping attendees. Prepare and practice questions that won’t get a yes or no answer.

    1. Qualify

2 minutes. Determine if the prospect is worth presenting to … and what to present.

    1. Present

5 to 8 minutes. Demo on just the prospect’s needs, not everything you know. Prepare for common objections and questions.

  1. Close

1 minute. Lead card complete? Agree on the next step and go on to the next lead!

Companies often overlook the fact that they are taking chances with exhibitions if their sales or exhibition team are not fully trained and this really is an opportunity missed as you only have one chance to make a first impression and that’s it.

Consider how much you are really investing in your show… I don’t necessarily mean the cost with the organiser, as this is on average only a third of what you will spend overall. It’s a big investment! For the cost of 2-3 sq. metres of space you could have your team well trained and get more and better leads that convert into real business.


Stephan “The Exhibition Guy” Murtagh has 25+ years’ experience in the exhibition and events industry and has worked with many of the biggest organisers in the industry. As a qualified Fetac trainer, he set-up The Exhibition Guy to educate and train people on how to sell more, his website features module-based courses and coaching for real-life situations within the sector.