Tradeshows Don’t Generate Leads

In my experience, tradeshows rarely generate many new leads.  Not because the sales team is hoarding all the business cards they collected at the show (marketing conspiracy theory #35).  But because buying patterns have shifted.  Anyone that wants to learn about a new technology doesn’t have to wait to visit you a booth at tradeshow (like they did back in the 1980s).  They can go online to self-educate and discover vendors.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t get any foot traffic if you fork over the $10,000 for a 10 x 10 booth.  But most people that will stop to talk don’t really have a need.  You will get a fair number of existing customers that just want to say “Hello.”  You will also get a lot of people that are looking for leads themselves – leads for a new job or for a new partnership.  But most people are just treasure hunting for a stuffed animal or small gadget they can take home to their kids.

I’m not a big fan of booths.  Booths suck up resources.  You need three (or more) people staffing your booth during exhibit hours.  Most companies send their top talent to tradeshows:

  • the most knowledgeable sales engineers
  • the highest performing sales managers
  • the busiest product managers

Having these high value resources chit-chatting with half-interested passersby is not a smart use of time.  Instead have them focus on higher value activities.

What might those activities be?  I will share a list in my next post.


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