Trade Show Sales Prospecting

Alternative to Trade Show Sales Prospecting

WILL DAVIS, 11 August 2022

Trade shows have been a source for improving brand awareness and sales prospecting for many years, and still play a pivotal role in many marketing and sales campaigns. These kinds of events are an expensive prospecting method, however, with some costing up to £5k to attend—adding in the cost of exhibiting, your costs could spiral into five figures. Even after all those additional costs, there’s never any guarantee you’ll get a return on your investment. 

Read on to discover how trade show prospecting works in practice, and our at-home lead generation alternative that mitigates the risks you take in trying to engage new prospects via these events.

Trade shows as a sales prospecting strategy

Conference and trade show lead generation is a form of event marketing completed at the top of the sales funnel. Sales representatives will either exhibit at these events, attempting to attract new prospects to their business, or walk around and network with potential customers. 

As with other lead generation opportunities, they’ll focus on qualifying leads, establishing pain points, and pitching their product or service accordingly. They’ll then follow up with good leads after the event, to try to push them towards making a purchasing decision. The difference between the trade show sales prospecting technique and other forms of lead generation is that at least the first two steps of the sales cycle must occur on the day of the event, and in high volume, to generate a sufficient number of qualified leads.

How does trade show lead generation work?

Successfully generating sales leads at trade shows and conferences can be a very labour-intensive process that begins long before the day of the event. Here’s an example of what the sales prospecting process might look like for a B2B sales professional at a trade show:

Identify potential customers

It’s good practice to identify potential leads ahead of a trade show, either by finding an event attendee list or looking for those likely to attend on LinkedIn. There are no guarantees these people will show up, however, so you’re still gambling with the quality and quantity of potential prospects in attendance. And if you’re unable to identify good leads pre-event, you’ll have to cast your net very wide, attracting customers with gimmicks like free items that drive up your costs further.

Reach out to prospects before the event

Many sales reps will carry out outbound prospecting in advance of a trade show, to encourage potential leads to attend the event and visit their stand. Tactics such as targeted outreach emails, webinars, and cold calling can help them to establish a relationship before meeting in person. Once again, however, this is never a guaranteesalespeople often put in a lot of effort to develop a relationship with a prospect before an event, only for them to not show up or be interested in their product.

Attract a crowd

Businesses attending trade shows often set up stalls, displaying their offering. The key to attracting a crowd is with a crowd, so sales teams will often use tactics such as free presentations or demonstrations, giveaways, and competitions. These kinds of prospecting activities can be key to engaging potential leads. Of course, you could end up giving your best sales pitch to someone with no decision making power or budget, or giving away free items to unqualified leads.

Trade show lead generation will always be a gamble, no matter how expensive your ticket, or how much time you’ve spent researching or preparing for the event. Putting in this much money, effort and time to your prospecting efforts, only to attract no new business, can be an incredibly demoralising experience. So why go through it at all?

4 step solution for better B2B lead generation

As we’ve established, paying to attend lead generation events (and the time you spend prepping) is a gamble that might not pay off. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences and events have also gone fully remote or hybrid, making it even more difficult to meet and engage with potential buyers. 

The Beauhurst platform can act as an effective sales prospecting tool for business development teams. With a more targeted approach, it’s lower-risk than trade shows, with the potential for higher reward. You can search through our database of over 45k high-growth UK companies, using a wide range of filters to discover the businesses most relevant to you. This way, you’re able to generate lists of high-quality leads that fit your qualification criteria, in seconds. 

All these potential leads can then be saved into a Collection, filling your sales pipeline, and giving you a high-value prospect list to return to when the timing’s right. With this approach, you eliminate the risk that comes with trade show lead generation. Here’s a step-by-step guide to targeting the best leads for your business with Beauhurst:

1. Research your target market

The Beauhurst platform’s Advanced Search tool allows you to sound out high-quality prospects suited to your product or service. This search functionality allows you to identify high-growth UK companies, using hundreds of criteria, such as company name, financial information, industry, location, fundraisings, named investors and employee count. With this level of detail, you can drill down to find only the companies that fit your ideal customer profile, and set up alerts to keep track of their progression.

2. Create custom lead lists

Once you’ve selected potential businesses to go after, Beauhurst gives you access to all the information you need to approach them, including company size and verified contact details for key decision makers, websites and social media links, and industry news featuring the business. And by adding your prospect list to a Collection, you’ll have all this information in one place and can even tag companies to keep a record of which ones you’ve made contact with already.

3. Tailor your outreach

Beauhurst will automatically provide insights on your Collections to help you carry out tailored outreach. For instance, you might choose to use different email templates depending on a company’s sector, location and stage of evolution. You may also discover connections between companies that weren’t initially apparent to you, which you can then use to target a group of potential buyers.

4. Nurture leads over time

With all this data at your fingertips, it’s easy to keep tabs on potential customers, so you can approach them at the right time and show you’ve done your research. You can easily keep in touch with your prospects, for example congratulating them on a new fundraising round, senior hire or recent press mention.   

So before you sign up to your next event, why not have a conversation with our team? Keep costs down and save time with the Beauhurst platform. Book a free demo today to see how we can simplify your lead generation process, with just a few clicks.

More leads, more clients, less churn.

Get access to unrivalled data on all the companies you need to know about, so you can approach the right leads, at the right time.

Book a 40 minute demo today to see all of the key features, as well as the depth and breadth of data available on the Beauhurst platform.

An associate will work with you to build a sophisticated search, returning a dynamic list of organisations matching your ideal client profile.