Live events like trade shows can offer valuable opportunities to showcase products and services, connect with potential customers, and gain industry insights.

Yet, 36% of marketers attending major trade shows report feeling disappointed, and consider the leads they generate to be of low value (Tradeshowlabs). To truly succeed in generating new business through these events and achieve a positive return on investment (ROI), B2B businesses need to upgrade their strategy.

In this post, we will explore the best strategy to drive more participation and generate leads that convert: blending field sales and inside sales tactics.

Before the event: drive more ICP attendance

According to Tradeshowlabs, 54% of businesses attend live events primarily because their competitors are present. With such intense competition, it is essential to differentiate your business.

The most effective way to do it is with an integrated sales and marketing approach that blurs the lines between field and inside sales. Here’s how to get started:

  • Plan Early: Only 28% of trade show exhibitors begin planning 1-2 months before the show (Tradeshowlabs).

Early planning, up to 6 months before the event, allows you to create a comprehensive and impactful approach, giving you an edge over competitors who might be scrambling to organise their participation closer to the event.

  • Select your targets wisely: Trade shows are just another marketing channel. As such, they work best when you target the right prospects. So, start by defining your ideal customer profile: it will keep you focused on the prospects who are more likely to convert into valuable leads.

  • Deploy a multi-channel campaign: Inform customers and prospects about your trade show participation right where your message has the strongest impact.

Leverage a variety of communication channels, such as email and social media, and send out personalised invitations to drive traffic to your booth or attendance at your event.

Cold calling campaigns allow you to engage decision-makers within your target accounts, identify their challenges and demonstrate your expertise in understanding how to solve them: this will motivate their participation.

  • Start qualifying your leads before the event: Cold calling campaigns are the ideal way to identify best-fit prospects, understand their individual challenges and motivations, and predict the steps necessary to convert them into customers.

Having a question-led conversation before the event makes you stand out from the crowd. It will allow you also to arrange a brief meeting/demo at your booth and have more quality conversations with individual attendees.

During the event: qualify your leads

Converting leads into actual customers is essential for a successful trade show experience.

Companies spend an average of 31.6% of their marketing budgets on events, including trade shows (Zoominfo). Yet, according to Exhibitoronline, only 34% run a lead-scoring process. With marketing performance increasingly targeted on revenue, lead qualification becomes crucial to maximising the ROI of live events.

Encourage your salespeople to adopt a consultative approach also when attending events. Presenting your solutions must not shift your focus away from your customers: it’s still all about them, their challenges and their goals.

A customer-centric approach will allow you to collect the information necessary to implement a lead-scoring system. Categorise and prioritise leads based on their level of interest and probability of conversion. This will enable your sales team to focus on the most promising leads, boosting their efficiency and maximising your chances to close new deals.

After the event: follow up and measure success

Measuring the success of trade show participation and implementing effective lead follow-up tactics are critical elements for long-term success.

  • Quantify your results: Exhibitoronline reveals that 72% of participants do not measure the number of leads that convert to a sale as part of their event’s ROI. Instead, they focus on brand awareness and relationship building, which are challenging to quantify.

But lead conversion is a key indicator of success and should receive central attention in every growth strategy. Here’s how to further improve it:

  • Nurture your leads: Only 6% of exhibitors feel able to convert trade show leads (Tradeshowlabs). The rest waste time chasing unqualified leads or ignore that most early-stage B2B engagements are far away from a purchase.

To capitalise on these early conversations, you must nurture your qualified leads. Provide valuable content to your prospects, personalise your follow-ups, and adopt the right communication cadence to consistently deliver value and remain at the top of their minds.

By building relationships and addressing their specific needs, you will increase your chances of converting leads into customers.

Participating in trade shows presents both great opportunities and challenges. By employing a blend of inside sales and field sales to optimise participation, qualify and nurture your leads, you can boost your chances of standing out from the crowd and maximise the return on investment from your field sales and events strategy.

Discover the power of an integrated sales and marketing approach for trade shows and learn how we help ambitious businesses like yours supercharge sales and accelerate revenue growth.

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