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In my job as Sales Director here at Grapevine, I get to visit a lot of trade shows, as you can imagine. I have been lucky to be included in many of our clients’ trade show planning sessions and team meetings to better understand how they interact with prospects.

From all these meetings, here’s what I’ve concluded: the most successful exhibitors are those who communicate the strategy and goals to everyone involved, before, during and after the show.

Examples:

• When the exhibit design team is involved in initial sales and marketing planning meetings, the exhibit functions better.
• When sales and marketing teams plan the booth and sales cycle in advance, the process flows better… rarely bad surprises.
• When the sales team knows exactly who plays what role in the booth, and what goals are expected of them, they get better results.
• When all staffers have a pre-show meeting before the show opens and review expectations, they work better together.
• When internal teams are aware of what’s happening at trade shows (like receptionists, call centers, account reps and support teams) there is more synergy and better communications with clients.
• When the lead capture and fulfillment plan is developed and prepared for BEFORE the show, then sales results are usually better.
• When shows are reviewed, critiqued, measured and analyzed for results, there is continual improvement.

For some busy entrepreneurs, marketing or sales managers, trade shows are often NOT their main priority. They’re so busy with everyday business, the event is often an afterthought. When squeezed, rushed or unplanned, here come the communication gaps. One department misses telling another show details, or literally whispers down the lane, or the water cooler. Internal staff doesn’t know what the outside staff is doing. Unplanned follow-up turns to delayed follow-up, to sometimes none at all. Leads go unworked. Investment becomes just an expense and waste of time.

If I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s that good old-fashioned communication and advance planning can make or break your trade show success. Our advice: take time to plan from start to finish, communicate to your entire team, and follow-up promptly.

I hope our team of experts can be a great communication and planning link for your future trade shows.

Steve Greger
Director of Sales