How to Sell Products at Trade Shows

Trade Show Trenches
March 11, 2021

There are many different reasons to attend trade shows, including boosting your brand’s visibility, building lasting relationships within your industry, researching your competitors, showcasing and selling your products, and generating new leads. If your primary goal is to sell products or services, it’s a good idea to tailor your trade show strategy to ensure your success in this area.

We know that selling more products at trade shows is often easier said than done, so we put together this guide to help boost your sales and generate as many new leads as possible the next time you hit the trade show circuit. Let’s get started! 


An Introduction on How to Sell Products at Trade Shows

Before we get into our tips for improving sales and generating leads, let’s start with the basics. It all begins with your trade show booth, exhibit, or experience. Without a captivating exhibit space that displays your products or services and engages your potential customers, even the best salesperson would be hard-pressed to make a sale. Perhaps that’s why, on average, trade show exhibitors spend the vast majority of their budget (33%) on their exhibit space itself. 

Finding an experienced trade show exhibit company that can help bring your brand to life with an impactful exhibit is a crucial first step. After all, you only have about 10 seconds to capture the attention of passersby before they lose interest! If your goal is to close more deals on the day of the trade show, designing a trade show exhibit that is meeting-friendly is key. It’s much more efficient and cost-effective to meet with a potential client at a trade show than to arrange for a meeting afterward. 

Many trade show exhibit companies also offer more comprehensive trade show support services to make your participation in trade shows as seamless, stress-free, and strategic as possible. 


How Do I Sell at a Trade Show? Preparation is Key! 

Once you have a standout exhibit design that will showcase whatever it is you’re trying to sell and pique the curiosity of potential customers, there’s a lot more you can do before, during, and after the event to amp up your sales. 

In preparation for the big event, you should consider running a pre-show promotional campaign. This may include sending out pre-show promotional emails to existing and prospective clients to drive booth traffic, building out a pre-show landing page for your website, and/or leveraging social media. If you want to increase sales at the event itself, you should be sure to include a direct call to action (CTA) in any pre-event promotional materials, encouraging attendees to sign up for something on the day of the event – like a free consultation with one of your sales representatives. You should get creative and think about how you can incentivize attendees to come and check out your booth on the day of the show. Another important step in preparing for a trade show is to refine your 30-second elevator pitch and train up your team of sales professionals. 


Effective Trade Show Lead Generation 

Tips for Selling at a Trade Show

Below are some tips to help boost your sales on the day of the trade show: 

  • Carefully decide which staff members you want to represent you at the trade show, keeping your goals in mind. Generally, sales representatives will be better at selling products and services than senior management. Technical representatives may also be needed, depending on what you’re selling. 
  • Whoever is staffing your booth, make sure they don’t leave people waiting. Most attendees have short attention spans and will leave your booth if they can’t get help from someone in a minute or less. 
  • Train your staff to be direct, not beat around the bush. Rather than greet attendees with a generic “How’s it going?”, your staff should try to get a sense of whether they’d be interested in whatever it is you’re trying to sell. A more focused question – something like “Hello, what information can I tell you about our new makeup line?” – will help get the sales conversation started. 
  • Be sure to equip your staff with helpful resources such as case studies, testimonials, pricing details, and other key information that they can use to keep the sales conversation going. Make sure whatever content is shared with prospective clients contains a clear call to action (CTA) that can lead to a sale. 
  • Consider displaying QR codes along with any CTAs so that booth visitors can conveniently take the next step, whether that be to sign up for a consultation, claim a discount, etc. 
  • To boost your sales on the day of the trade show, you can also offer special trade show pricing/discounts to incentivize people to make a purchase immediately. 

No matter what you do, some attendees may feel undecided and will hold off on making a purchase at the trade show itself. But that doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel! These people are highly qualified leads with great potential to become future customers. The section below will focus on how to make that happen. 


Tips for Selling at a Trade Show

Effective Trade Show Lead Generation 

Next to actually making sales on the trade show floor, generating new leads is a key goal for many trade show participants. 

Below are a few tips and tricks to help you generate more leads and actually convert them into customers:

  • Think about creative ways to generate leads during the trade show. You need to incentivize people to give you their contact information. Perhaps you could host a fun trivia game, let them spin a wheel for a prize, host a drawing, allow them to test out your products, or set up a branded photo booth. The possibilities are endless!  
  • Carefully consider how you will collect leads at the show. Popular lead collection methods include: collecting business cards, using badge scanners, and filling out branded forms. As technology improves, you may find that it’s worth investing in a lead scanner or data collection tool or system. Some systems can automatically send data collected at the show to your marketing automation software or CRM to help speed up your follow-ups.
  • Keep in mind that not all leads are created equal! It’s important to identify and rank or score your leads. Are they a buyer, decision-maker, supplier, or competitor? How likely are they to make a purchase? How soon are they likely to make a purchase? Are they located in your service area? Surprisingly, studies show that the majority of event exhibitors don’t come prepared with a formal lead ranking or scoring process. Ranking leads is incredibly important and will help you prioritize and strategize when the time comes to follow up. 
  • Be sure to follow up with all your leads, and do so as quickly as possible – preferably within hours or days, rather than weeks after the event. It’s a good idea to create a strategy and process for following up with leads prior to the show itself. You can even draft up follow-up emails for different types of leads so that they’re ready to go, but be sure to leave room for personalization. 
  • Your initial follow-up should be as personalized as possible. Ideally, you’ll remind people of your engagement at the trade show and clearly define how they can benefit from your products or services. Be sure to include an action-oriented CTA and perhaps another way thatthey can engage with your brand (follow on social media, subscribe for updates, etc.) in case they choose not to make a purchase. 
  • Get back to people who respond as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours! 
  • Don’t give up after the first attempt to engage! For those who don’t respond to the first email, you can follow up a second time with a call. If possible, it may be most effective if the person who talked to them at the show is the one to call.

Recap of How to Sell Products at Trade Shows

As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to sell more products or services at trade shows. Set clear goals, develop a strategy and plan in advance, come up with a standout exhibit or booth, focus on making sales, follow up with your leads… and you’ll be amazed at how your products fly off the shelf! To maximize your sales, partner with Exhibits Northwest, a leading trade show industry expert. With nearly three decades of experience and thousands of successful projects, we know exactly how to achieve your goals and make sure you stand out from the crowd. 


Schedule a Call

If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form, and we’ll contact you shortly.

Schedule a Call
If you’re ready to take your trade show exhibits to new heights, fill out this form and we’ll contact you shortly.