Productivity: The Importance of a Well-Thought-Out Sales Plan

February 10, 2017

Bill McGlade

With more than a dozen years of experience in the event industry, Bill McGlade is a thought leader seeking to provide provoking conversations that push the envelope and the industry forward. He is vice president of account management at Personify A2Z Events.


In the trade show industry, and specifically for sales teams, producing results by means of booth and sponsorship sales is customarily the criteria by which “productivity” is measured. If we accept the end result as a good measure of productivity, and for all practical purposes it does seem to be the best option, then keeping the team’s focus on both short and long-term goals is key to success. Yet, even very successful teams often and inevitably go through repetitive cycles of procrastination. Is there a way to ensure that productivity stays at a sustained high level through the sales cycle?

By no means am I touting 100 percent productivity levels every day, every hour. That would cause rapid burnouts industry-wide! What I am proposing is a well-thought-through sales plan to stay on track.

Let’s be honest. In sales, many of us are experienced “wingers.” We think quickly on our feet, come up with profound solutions to complex challenges, have no qualms with engaging a crowd, and for the most part, attaining the results we wanted from the start. There, yes, right there, the magic words, “from the start.”

It all starts with a plan. That plan may have been formulated in the five seconds it took to walk over to the meeting room, but it was a plan nonetheless. Imagine scaling up those five seconds and redefining and re-evaluating how, what, where, when, and why you sell booth space and sponsorships for your shows. It may sound daunting, but it’s worth it, I assure you.

You’ve most likely been in your current position for some time and understand your participants’ needs and wants. And if this is a brand-new position for you, then right there is your first step.

Understand your exhibitor and attendee base. What motivates them and brings them to your show? What engages them and defines a successful experience for them? With this understanding, you can formulate realistic goals for your team. With the goals well-defined, your next step is to build a solid plan that will keep you on time and with your productivity levels elevated. Remember, it’s not about being busy all the time, it’s about keeping your mind focused on the end result and devising the steps to get there.

What does one of these well-thought-through plans look like? Obviously, it would be driven by your organization’s specific goals and aspirations. To help us set off on the journey, here is a very basic outline for a plan:

Sales Plan 2017


• Onsite Booth Sales at Expo 2017

• Confirmation emails with single sign on and link to sponsorships


• Contact non-selects (those that exhibited in the past but not currently signed on for Expo 2018) – do not limit this to the previous year’s Expo. 2017 non-selects will be your hot leads, 2016 will be warm, 2015 cool, 2014 cold.

• Send checklist to current exhibitors – checklist of tasks they need to complete for a successful event with due dates (include liability and payment information)

• Send invoices


• Upsell directory listings, aka, sell those digital enhanced listings so your exhibitors can enjoy additional exposure for a longer period of time. Set expectations that you are creating a 365 experience, not a 3-5-day event experience.

• Evaluate progress of sales – booth space and sponsorship


• 50% invoices due. Send reminders to $0 paids. If you are a stickler on this, let them know they have until August to pay 50% or their space will be released.

• Site visit – enjoy your time and search for new sponsorship opportunities at the convention hall


• Take a vacation! Just kidding. No, but really.

Of course, your plan will look much more detailed. And real life would be even more complex! That’s okay since by our very nature we sales people know how to stay nimble on our feet. A solid plan just keeps us moving, as it should.

Another trick of the trade is to always check how you are pacing against your pre-defined goals. An up-to-date pacing report helps to track the health of your event and keep an eye on the various trends affecting your sales activity. This will help you determine risks early in the game and give you an edge to overcome any obstacles that could potentially arise in the future. It’s so important that I’ll say it again: a comprehensive pacing report is a crucial component in our arsenal of sales tools.

To summarize, productivity is in all essence the result of your sales activity. The sum-total of that activity, in turn, determines the final outcome of your sales cycle. So, it is vital to put together a well-thought-through plan to keep those activities on track. Any ole’ plan will keep you productive, however, a well-thought-through plan will make you efficient and effective. It’s all about maintaining the course, navigating by a plan and reaching your goal without taking unnecessary detours or losing steam mid-way!

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Enter the characters shown in the image.

Partner Voices

With more than 2,000 rooms being added to Dallas’ hotel inventory in the coming years, the city is experiencing the second-largest hotel boom in the nation. From top brands like Virgin Hotels to independent and interesting properties, like HALL Arts Hotel, Dallas boasts a hotel type and price point for every preference and budget.