Staffing your booth to maximize the number of leads collected is a thing of the past; now in-person events are all about building long-term relationships

Beyond the Booth: Elevating Trade Show Success with Strategic Engagement and Technology

Read time:

< Blog home

Play Podcast

If you've been part of the trade show circuit, you're familiar with the old playbook: scan badges, accumulate leads, and consider the job done. But let's be real - while that method fills up your CRM, does it genuinely fill up your sales pipeline with quality leads? Or better yet, does it build those memorable connections that turn into long-term business relationships? Spoiler alert: There are more effective ways to measure trade show success, and they don’t involve treating attendees like items at a grocery store checkout.

Rethinking Your Trade Show Goals

Lead Volume Is No Longer The Holy Grail 

Think about it: After the show is over, how many of those scanned leads actually remember you or your product? If success at trade shows were based on lead quantity, we’d all be winners. In reality, the event marketing game has changed, revealing a fundamental truth - not every lead is a golden ticket to revenue and business success.

This revelation has sparked a major shift in focus. Gone are the days when collecting leads was the be-all and end-all objective of trade shows. Now, it's all about forging genuine connections and nurturing a pipeline that values quality as much as quantity. Especially in B2B, where getting from that initial “hello” to closing a deal is more like a marathon than a sprint. It’s about patience, sticking to it, and making those genuine connections. Now, a lead isn’t just another name to add to your list – it’s the start of a potential relationship that could really go somewhere.

Jonathan Kazarian, CEO of Accelevents, captures this sentiment perfectly: “Instead of counting how many leads we gather, we should measure the pipeline we generate. But don’t just look at the 15 or 30 days after the event. Look at the pipeline that materializes six months down the line, or even 12 months and beyond, depending on how long your leads take to mature through your sales funnel.”

This perspective underscores a critical shift in how we define and measure the success of trade shows. It’s a reminder that in the complex dance of B2B sales, the initial meeting is just the beginning. The true measure of success lies in the sustained effort to build relationships, nurture potential, and patiently cultivate a pipeline that yields tangible results well after the event lights dim.

You’ve created a stunning booth design and staffed your trade show exhibits with sales teams, but do you have a post-event plan to solidify your pipeline

Engaging Leads and Customers: Strategies for Lasting Connections

Now that we’ve established that it pays to play the long game, how exactly do we ace this approach with both new leads and our existing customers.

First Impressions: Winning Over New Leads

Engaging potential leads on the show floor is a bit like navigating a first date. Your goal is to make a memorable impression, uncover shared interests, and assess the potential for a lasting partnership. It's about meaningful face-to-face conversations, active listening, and showcasing your value rather than just collecting business cards and scanning contact details. This mindset respects your potential customer's time and also sets the stage for enduring relationships.

Lead Capture Versus Lead Nurturing

As we have discussed, exhibitors often focus on the number of leads they can snag at their trade show booth. But what happens after the trade show? Often, those leads just sit in the CRM while sales teams recover from a hectic week of trade show participation and after-hours events. Unfortunately, securing a qualified lead is just the start - like a first date doesn’t guarantee a second, a new lead isn’t ready to dive deeper right away.

This is where a solid trade show marketing strategy comes into play. Sales and marketing teams need to work together to turn those initial onsite meetings into ongoing relationships. What’s your post-event follow-up plan? Which emails, calls, and case studies will build brand awareness and get those leads ready for action, ideally before the next trade show?

Embrace a long-term view of lead generation now, and your return on investment from trade shows will skyrocket.

Cultivating Loyalty: Keep Existing Customers Coming Back

When it comes to existing customers, your goal is to achieve repeat event attendance. For example, if you are hosting an annual user conference, monitoring the number of returning attendees each year can offer valuable insights. Repeat attendance serves as a vital measure of customer loyalty, highlighting the success of your sales and marketing efforts. By delivering exceptional experiences, you encourage your customers to return while also increasing the chances of them bringing others along, fostering both retention and community expansion.

In this context, upsells and revenue generation are valuable metrics to track. How many dollars did you generate from last year's customers this year? This insight provides a clear picture of your success in retaining customers and expanding your business within your existing client base.

slick exhibit designs and cutting-edge event tech are not silver bullets for event success

Can Event Tech Secure Trade Show Success?

Let's tackle a widespread myth head-on: the idea that technology, by itself, can be the magic bullet for trade show success. That's not quite the whole story. While technology has the power to elevate the event experience, it's not a silver bullet for boosting qualified leads or expanding your sales pipeline. However, leveraging event technology strategically is still essential in today's event landscape. Here's why:

Event Tech Maximizes Engagement Opportunities

Leveraging the right event management platform allows sales teams to engage effectively with your target audience at every stage of the sales cycle, from initial booth contact to tailored follow-ups. Imagine a scenario where, during a trade show, a sales team captures a potential client's interest in their software solution directly into their integrated event app. This app, connected to their CRM, records conversation details such as the client's interest level, preferred follow-up method, and specific use cases discussed.

This seamless integration between the event platform and CRM ensures that every follow-up is informed and purposeful. Instead of beginning anew with each contact, the sales team can reference the trade show conversation in their follow-up, personalizing the approach and reinforcing the lead's value. This strategy boosts the chances of conversion and lays the groundwork for a strong, lasting relationship from the first interaction.

Event Tech Leverages Data To Optimize Future Events

Event technology empowers you to capture valuable data that informs the design of future events. By analyzing attendee behaviors, preferences, and feedback, event professors can identify areas for improvement and tailor the next event to meet the needs of all event participants better. This iterative approach enhances the attendee experience and increases the likelihood of repeat attendance and word-of-mouth referrals.

Event Tech Turns Event Insights into Upsell Opportunities

Event tech features like session tracking and booth visit analytics offer key insights for upselling. For example, if data reveals significant interest in a new product demo at a booth or a session focused on a product launch, this signals a prime opportunity for upselling to those attendees. With such targeted information, sales teams can confidently approach customers with personalized upsell offers that align with their demonstrated preferences, ensuring a higher success rate and driving revenue growth.

In essence, while technology isn't the sole solution for trade show success, it remains a powerful tool for engaging leads, shaping future events, and driving revenue growth. 

how to turn trade show leads into product evangelists and influencers hinges upon your ability to build quality long-term relationships with your target audience

The Future of Trade Show Events

The future of events is bright and it's personalized. Successful events will create experiences that deeply resonate with trade show attendees. By changing our metrics from quantity to quality and leveraging technology to enhance human connections, event organizers can set the stage for more meaningful interactions and, ultimately, more successful trade show experiences.

With that said, there’s still a place for scanning those leads. But remember, the real victory comes from the conversations you spark and the lasting relationships you build from those interactions.

Table of contents
Thank you for signing up to our newsletter!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.