Exhibiting with Purpose for Profit – Part 2

November 27, 2018

Craig W. Moritz

Craig W. Moritz is a Senior Event Executive who has been in the trade show industry for more 25 years, selling and/or managing events in over 25 countries on six continents. Being from Texas, he has primarily been involved in the energy and industrial industries. Helping exhibitors maximize ROI is Craig’s passion and goal with each and every event.  

In my first article, we discussed Goal Setting, Booth Design and Pre-show Marketing, which will all lay the foundation for your next trade show. Whether it is one, two, three or four days long, there is work to do.

At the very least, companies are spending at least $10,000 to exhibit at a show and for the largest shows, larger companies will spend well over $1 million. That $10,000 investment to one company may be a much bigger spend to that company than the $1 million is to another. In any case, execution and ROI are vital. Therefore, the hours on the show floor and even before and after show hours are so important. Don’t miss the opportunity to maximize results and then be able to measure what the results are.

This is not meant to be exhaustive by any means but will hopefully get you thinking about what you are doing and motivate you to make any improvements you can to maximize your investment in the shows your company exhibits. It is about being deliberate and proactive.

Train your booth staff - This step is very often missed and is so important. Think about it, working a trade show is very different than any other type of marketing, selling or branding. The customer is coming to you on a “neutral field,” yet in your space. This is an environment very conducive to interaction and conversations.  

Inside salespeople are used to being on the phone or on the keyboard.  

Outside salespeople are used to going to meetings at the prospect/client’s place of business.

Your booth is your space at a neutral site and they are coming to you.  

However, not everyone will be stopping at your booth on their own. Your staff needs to be proactive and engaging, so what does that look like?

Select the right staff to be at your booth– You don’t send your accountants on sales calls and you don’t send your marketing staff on equipment service calls. Engage staff who are bold enough to ask open-ended questions to people walking by your booth. They need to be proactive, upbeat and engaging.

Characteristics of effective booth staff- Below are eight characteristics I would suggest you look for:

  1. Great attitude and positivity
  2. Great communicator
  3. Knowledgeable about the company, products and technologies and can speak clearly and effectively about them
  4. No fear of talking and engaging people walking by
  5. Professional appearance
  6. Dynamic and energetic
  7. Can ask good open-ended questions
  8. Ability to quickly qualify and take good notes 

Hold Pre-show meetings– You need to meet with the staff and make sure they are prepared with the show’s goals, what is going to be on display, what the expectations are and what the show and booth schedule is. Consider bringing in a trade show expert to speak and train your team a couple of weeks before the show. The investment will be well worth it.

Manage expectations– The company is making a big investment in the show and the staff working the booth is the team that is tasked with achieving the goals for the show. It is not a time to catch up on emails, text friends or hang out with colleagues. They need to know the do’s and don’ts of effective exhibiting. Jefferson Davis of Competitive Edge has some great Do’s and Don’ts listed below:


  1. Pay careful attention to cultural differences
  2. Have enough staff
  3. Have a mix of job functions
  4. Act like you want to be there
  5. Work your shift
  6. Keep the booth clean
  7. Stand
  8. Smile
  9. Proactively engage visitors
  10. Talk less, ask more questions


  1. Passive or Overaggressive
  2. Have too many staff
  3. Badge-gawking
  4. Hang with the gang
  5. Closed body postures
  6. Pre-judge visitors by appearance
  7. Turn away from the aisle
  8. Eat, drink or chew gum
  9. Talk on cell phones or text in the booth
  10. Sit and work on your computer
  11. Sit and read a book or magazine

Post-show– Once the show is over, you have collected leads from the visitors. Now is not the time to go back to the office and catch up on work. Studies have shown for years that on average across all industries, 75-80 percent of all exhibitors do NOT follow up on their trade show leads. Are you kidding me?  

A number of years ago, I had an exhibiting client, Mickey, who rebooked during the trade show and told me they were having a great show. About four months later, Mickey called me and said she was going to cancel their booth for the upcoming show. She said the show had not turned out as well as they thought, so I asked her some questions because this was very contrary to what she told me during the show. 

In my questioning I asked her what happened with all the leads they had made during the show. There was complete silence on the other end of the phone. I said “Mickey? Hello, are you still there?” She quietly answered that the leads were still on her desk and that she had gotten busy after the show and had not followed through with any of them. I then told her she was not allowed to cancel her booth space because that was her fault and I would not accept that excuse (I had a good relationship with her and could be that direct without causing ill will). She knew I was right and stayed in the show and that year had another good show, but I stayed on her to follow up on the leads this time.

All that said, have your process for lead follow up in place BEFORE the show (possibly someone who didn’t attend and has not been out of the office for a week or so). Make sure there are multiple people responsible for making sure all commitments from the show are followed up on and that there is a tracking mechanism in place for a specified amount of time. That timeframe should be based on your company’s sales cycle.

Set meetings with the relevant team for one month, three months and six months post-show to discuss the progress with the show leads. You might say that is overkill, but I would tell you that I have a client who has been able to track $46 million in sales over a nine-month period directly from their trade shows!Would that be some good information to promote internally with your company? That same client just told me that they have already had a $6 million sale from a lead made at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) just a few months ago! That doesn’t happen by accident.

To wrap this up, trade shows can be an incredibly valuable tool to advance your company’s brand, exposure and sales if they are done correctly. However, they can be a very “expensive appearance,” as my friend, Jefferson Davis of Competitive Edge, says. If a trade show is worth doing, then it is worth doing right.


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