Exhibition Sales Training - maximising your investment

Exhibition Sales Training – how to maximise your investment

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Exhibition Sales Training – Top question from Google

How do I increase my Exhibition Sales? – the short answer

In order to increase your exhibition sales you must first ensure as many prospective customers and existing customers as possible visit your stand.  Once you have prospects on your stand, you must ensure that you have an “offer” that is both relevant, compelling, and easy for your audience to buy.

Here’s a more detailed look at what you can do to make your exhibition a success

1. How do you sell at an exhibition?

With the world emerging from lockdowns live events are now returning to the business calendar, hence we thought now was a good time to review how you can get the best ROI from your Exhibition investment.

There are many different strands to making your Exhibition successful and like everything in life, the more effort you put in up front, the higher the rewards. 

Exhibitions can be extremely expensive with exhibition space costing tens of thousands of pounds and equally expensive exhibition stand costs. With that said, Exhibitions in the B2B world can be a great source of both new enquiries and purchase orders. 

We’ve put together a checklist to help you get the maximum return from your next event, and ultimately win more business.

  1. Event Selection – choose your events carefully and always ensure that the previous years attendees/audience matches your Ideal Client Profile and your Perfect Prospect Profile. If possible check to see if previous exhibitors and how many years they have been exhibiting.  The more years they have been attending is a good indication that they see the event as a good return on investment.
  2. Book Ahead – wherever possible book your exhibition space well in advance (1-2 years).  In addition to securing your space this provides you with better options when choosing your stand location.
  3. Negotiate – whilst some exhibition organisers may not negotiate on price we would recommend that you always ask for extras.  This could be anything from a featured speaking slot, to stand lighting.  If you don’t ask you won’t get so always ask the question.
  4. Stand Location – the main advantage to early booking is to enable you to get the best exhibition stand location.  Choose a location with high traffic (not next to the toilets) such as an entrance/ exit, main corridor or restaurant. The best locations can have 10 x more footfall so this can make or break your exhibition.
  5. Set Objectives – what would you like to achieve? Brand awareness, product launch, press coverage, new sales leads, purchase orders, client meetings, client entertainment are all possible at an exhibition.
  6. Planning – working back from your event set up date you need to organise your exhibition stand, lighting, accessories like plants, stock/products, shipping and people.
  7. Event Marketing – given the overall investment in your Exhibition a large part of the success of the event will be dictated by your ability to drive visitors to your stand.  You should target new business and existing customers.
  8. Press Releases – be sure to issue press releases about your forthcoming event and create press packs for event itself so that any industry press are aware of any products launches, upgrades or news.  Where possible invite industry press to your stand and any evening functions you have planned.
  9. Evening Functions – every exhibition provides you with an opportunity to entertain both existing and potential clients.  This can be done with a simple restaurant meal or a more lavish hotel-based evening banquet.
  10. Accommodation – in many cases there can be a shortage of hotel accommodation in the immediate vicinity of an exhibition.  Again, it’s important to book early so you minimise travel back and fore during the event and you base yourself in a hotel where your customers and prospects are also staying. 
Klozers Exhibition Sales Training
Klozers Exhibition Selling

2. Exhibition Salesforce Training Tips

Running any successful exhibition involves running a sales team. There are so many different tasks involved, each event can be like a large event in itself.  Indeed, larger organisations often have dedicated sales teams that do nothing else but organise their events. In order to achieve the maximum return on your investment it’s important that your stabd staff are fully prepared for the day/s and following a plan. 

In terms of your team on the day, here are the areas you should consider:

  1. Rota – people need a break in order that they are at fully energised whilst on the stand so ensure the team have breaks and don’t end up exhausted by the last day.
  2. Rules/guidelines – whilst I am not a fan of rules in some cases they are unavoidable.  What rules do your sales team need to follow.  For example, it can be off putting for some people going onto an exhibition stand only to find the stand personnel all eating.  
  3. Sales or Leads – are you selling from the stand or is your goal to generate new enquiries? Either way this needs to be agreed and a strategy in place.  For example if you are generating new enquiries what is the “agreed next step” the team should be aiming for.
  4. Does everyone know the sales process?  What is the actual process required to capture a lead or an order?
  5. Have you agreed on a system to categorise the sales leads that you generate?  If not, the most simplest format is write A, B or C on the back of each business card that the team collect meaning:
  6. Hot Leads – those that require immediate follow up after the event
  7. Warm leads – those that need to be contacted within 5 working days
  8. Cold Leads – those that are to be followed up within 10 working days
  9. Products and services – does the team have the knowledge required to not simply answer questions, but more importantly ask the right questions? Remember the value of any salesperson is not in the information they give but the information they get.
  10. Special Offers – what is the “show offer” and why is this offer a great deal for your customers. 
  11. Rapport – people buy from people they like.  Does your sales team have the skills to rapidly engage strangers walking part your stand and build rapport with them?
  12. No selling – yes no selling because, the harder your sales team try and sell the more resistant they will get.  Nobody likes being sold to so does your sales team have the consultative selling skills required to get your exhibition buyer to want to buy?

3. What are the types of Exhibition?

Exhibitions come in all shapes and sizes, from a regional based Business Show to full blown International Trade Fairs. 

Whilst the different names of exhibitions originally may have meant something, they have been interchanged and misused so many times any real differentiation is lost. 

So, with that said your exhibition could be called a Conference, an Expos, a Convention, a Trade Fair or any number of Industry associated names such as the Car Show. 

With the wide variety of events Exhibition Selling itself can vary from one event to the next. Your Exhibition Selling strategy needs to reflect the local culture, the market or vertical that you are targeting, yur products and services and finally, your Ideal Client Profile and Prospect persona.

Collectively these will ensure your Exhibition Selling strategy delivers a real return for your business.

Klozers Exhibition Sales Training
Klozers Exhibition Selling

4. How do you attract people to your stand?

Pre-marketing your event is a vital part of any event strategy and there are a number of different actions you can take to ensure a good turnout and win more business as follows:

  1.  Agree in advance with your sales team what your sales process is for the exhibition.
  2. Get sales people to book meetings with your customers at the stand.  It’s important to book a meeting as without any diary coordination you may have half a dozen customers all turn up at the same time.
  3. Get sales people to book an evening dinner with your top clients and where possible introduce your clients to each other and any potential new customers.
  4. Offer refreshments on your stand – tea, coffee, buffet & drinks.
  5. Email the show details including any special offer to your mailing list.
  6. Publicise the event on your website and use social media to promote the event with hashtags and good content.
  7. Run a competition that visitors can enter whilst on the stand.
  8. Ensure you have a special offer only available on the stand.
  9. Schedule any new product launches or upgrades to be released for the exhibition dates.
  10. Use the exhibition organisers marketing tools such as electronic displays above the aisles to promote your stand.
  11. Take one of the scheduled speaking slots to promote your business.
  12. Use physical marketing outside the exhibition to promote the event such as mobile display advertising.

5. How do you sell at an exhibition?

Whilst this may seem highly counter intuitive the best way to sell at an exhibition is actually not to try and sell. 

What do I mean by this? Well, the harder your team try and sell, the more resistance they will get from buyers. 

In reality most people do not like being sold to but people do like to buy.   

So with that in mind, your team should be using consultative selling skills which means that they are simply doing everything they can to create the right conditions for the buyer to buy. 

They do this by becoming experts at building rapport quickly and asking the right questions that make the buyers stop and think – remember “presentations tell, but questions sell”.

The best idea is your customers idea, and if your customer can convince themselves to buy that is much more powerful than if the salesperson tries to convince them to buy.

In many cases your stand staff may not know the best questions to ask and at what stage in the buyer conversation to ask.

It’s therefore well worth considering this in advance and training your sales team so they both remember the questions and they come over as natural, not scripted.

Lastly, what is often overlooked are things like Body Language of the sales people. Do they appear approachable?

Are they eating and drinking on the stand or just sitting down in a closed circle? All of these scenarios make the sales team less approachable.


Klozers Exhibition Sales Training
Klozers Exhibition Selling

6. Exhibition Sales Training Courses

We provide bespoke sales training courses to meet your exact needs.  Typically our training includes a complete Exhibition selling strategy that helps ensure you have the maximum possible number of visitors via pre-event marketing and then maximise the conversion ratio from stand visitors to leads and tangible sales orders. In short we ensure you win more business from your investment in exhibitions.

Our Sales Training Courses are delivered predominantly by Iain Swanston who in addition to his 35 years of sales experience, has personally ran exhibition stands on three continents and knows how important it is to maximise the market opportunity that every event presents. 

We can help your sales team prepare in three main areas:

  1. Pre event to ensure your sales team have a strategy and plan that they can execute
  2. During the event so your sales team acquire the maximum number of enquiries and sales
  3. Post event to ensure your sales team follow your sales process when following up each enquiry

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Iain Swanston Klozers

Author Bio

Iain Swanston has spent over 30 years in B2B sales selling, training and leading teams both domestically and internationally.  In addition he serves as an Associate at Strathclyde University Business School where he has delivered the sales content for the Masters in Entrepreneurship since 2015.

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