Three Trending Tradeshow Sales Strategies

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The trend for exhibit and sponsorship revenue is shifting away from the show floor.

Brand marketers value marketing and sponsorship opportunities more than the exhibit real estate.

The Facts…Are Changing

85% of a trade show’s revenue comes from space.  15% is from sponsorship and advertising. Source: Doug Ducate, President and CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

But that is changing. The tradeshow revenue mix is shifting in favor of sponsorship and advertising.

Three Tradeshow Selling Strategies

Organizations are competing with other conferences, shows and more measurable marketing mediums. A major shift in your sales approach and your organizational structure must occur if you want to seize this opportunity.

If you want to outperform competitors, consider these three significant sales strategies.

1. Consultative vs. transactional selling.

Creating an exhibit-and-sponsorship prospectus and waiting for the phone to ring is no longer going to cut it. Nor will dialing for dollars. Consultative selling eclipses these strategies.

  • Take a holistic approach.
    To maximize the opportunity with your largest targets, offer all of your marketing mediums and create customized packages. Combine exhibit, sponsorship, and advertising sales. Don’t separate them. And think beyond your show dates.
  • Think differently about competition.
    Consultative selling helps your customers compete better. That may or may not include occupying space on your show floor. Whatever you do, don’t sell against competitive shows or marketing opportunities.
  • Up the ante.
    Connect with the budget maker, not the budget spender. This may require a higher-level employee as part of the sales process. Map your recommendations to your prospective exhibitor’s business priorities, not be a laundry list of sponsor benefits.

2. Making it scale.

Unfortunately, consultative doesn’t scale. It might work for the top 10-30 potential exhibiting companies. Or save dissatisfied exhibitors threatening to pull out of your show.

But what about the others?

It’s easier to sell a nearly full show floor than one with lots of available booths. Some accelerate the process with a priority-point loyalty system and advanced booth sales at the previous year’s show. Successful shows pre-sell 80% – 90% of next year’s show during that year’s event. Using the confirmed exhibitor list creates a transactional sale.

3. Sponsorship menu.

Develop a menu of big and small sponsorship opportunities.

Investigate unique opportunities that exist in your meeting destination or venue. Marquee sponsors (platinum, gold or silver) will make or break your ability to deliver an experience that is difficult for others to replicate. For exhibitors that want to be viewed as thought leaders, offer education track, sessions and general session sponsorships.

Opportunities with low entry points at about $1,000 are critical. Use them to leverage your consultative-selling skills. Online booths and banner advertising serve as good sponsorship steps and up-sell options.

Adapted from Dave’s People & Processes column in PCMA’s March edition of Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2011.

What are some other ways to sell tradeshow opportunities that have worked for you? What are the pros and cons of consultative selling with exhibitors?

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  1. […] say 85 percent of a trade show’s revenue comes from selling exhibit space. The other 15 percent comes from sponsorship and advertising. According to Velvet Chainsaw, however, associations are shifting more effort into capitalizing on […]

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