My last post included the what NOT to do in trade show sales. And while I could write another whole list, let’s instead focus on what TO DO to sell well at trade shows.

This post includes tips on what you should do at trade shows to:


  1. Give a great experience to anyone who stops by your booth which makes you memorable.
  2. Conduct your own market research for future products or marketing efforts.
  3. Set up a potential opportunity or sale with prospective buyers.

First, think about the environment at a trade show…what’s going on? Information overload! Many sounds, people, and more importantly so much information that everyone is trying to assimilate. The sponsor or vendor area is typically the place to:

  1. Search for a product or service – either to buy or to get more information to aid in your buy decision.
  2. Conduct business intelligence for your own brand/company.
  3. Get by without having to talk to someone while picking up ‘free stuff’ along the way.

In the first two cases, visitors need a conversation or information that is relevant to them. For the third reason, jumping in front of them to say ‘come on in’ is just going to annoy them.

Warning: these are SIMPLE tips – simple to implement and simply ignored by so many.


Prepare for a productive trade show by:

  1.  Identifying what your ideal outcome is for each visitor. Is it to collect names of leads, make a sale, educate on your product?
  2. Practicing your greeting and a succinct one or two sentence explanation of what you do or the value of your solution.
  3. Writing out the potential questions you will ask to engage visitors in the first minute. Have 4-6 different questions that you have ready to roll in different scenarios.
  4. Scheduling time for when you return to make follow-up contact.


Make the visitors experience a great one (and differentiate yourself form the others) by:

  1. using common etiquette: greet them using your name and the name of your company or product, welcome them, use appropriate eye contact, shake their hand, ask them their name.
  2. Ask how you can help or guide them – find out what their purpose is for stopping by.
  3. Listen to them, paraphrase (quick summary).
  4. Ask for their business card – and take notes on the card itself as a trigger for your follow-up. This also shows them that they are important to you.
  5. Only share the information that is relevant to Them – don’t go on and on about your features and what you can do. Use Whats to WiifTs as explained in this blog post.
  6. If you have free items to give away, intentionally present them the free item with humor or an explanation of what to do (there was a little cloth inside a packet at a recent show I was at, I had no idea it was a screen cleaner which made sense for the business – she missed an opportunity to make it memorable when I thought it was a shoe polisher) and show that it means something and is not a throw away. Most everyone LOVES free stuff.
  7. Ask them how they would like to receive further information – phone call, email, etc. Its courteous and lets them feel in control versus feeling sold to.


Yes, follow-up quickly. While there are many estimates of how long you have to follow-up for a productive trade show experience -trust me, NONE of them are longer than a couple of days. Use the time you have scheduled to send emails, call, or in other ways engage.  I can tell you that MOST connections made at trade shows are not followed up on.

I use my time on the airplane to write out specific notes on paper or in my email program and when I get back to my office I proof them and zip them out. I can tell that you my most recent experience is that I had a 93% response rate to my immediate and personal follow-ups.

Find something useful to share with them as your follow-up. Remind them that you met them at the trade show and prepare a relevant connection to something you discussed.

And those are my tips on trade show sales. What have you found works well for you? What creative actions have you taken that paid off big for your trade show selling efforts?