4 Ways To Better Care For Your B2B Customers At Trade Shows


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One of top three trade show goals for B2B marketers is to strengthen key relationships. And no relationship is more valuable than their relationship with existing customers.

Yet, most exhibitors put greater effort into generating as many badge scans as possible, rather than creating a pro-active plan to take full advantage of their rare face-to-face time with multiple clients.

That’s a lost opportunity to boost sales and profits. Readers to this blog are well acquainted with some of the eye-popping economic stats that support focusing on retaining your customers:

  • Acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one
  • Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5% to 20%

Here are 4 ideas to help you plan to improve the quality of your customer interactions when they inevitably visit you at your trade show booths.

1. Quickly Recognize Your Clients At The Trade Show

It’s offending to customers who visit your booth and are treated as if they were just a face in the crowd. If they feel you don’t know they are customers, and value their business, they only have to walk across the aisle to find another vendor who may value them more.

You can prevent this unnecessary churn by:

  • Training your staffers to ask booth visitors very early in the conversation, “Are you familiar with our company?” Anyone who is a client will tell you at that point, and you can change your presentation
  • Sending different pre-show invitations to clients. Offer them a gift when they visit you at the booth, that is only available for them, and tell them to bring the invitation to claim it.
  • Asking your sales force to tell you who is coming to the show ahead of time, and create a client visitor list. Share this with the booth staff, so they are alerted to look for and greet these clients.

You may even have your Account Executive who manages the largest client accounts attend the show if you know their big customers are attending, too.

2. Have Deeper Conversations With Clients Who Visit Your Booth

Your clients are your company’s greatest resource. Treat them with respect to retain them, but also engage them in a deeper dialog to gather even more value for your company. Discussion topics should include:

  • Thanking them for their business. Show appreciation for their purchases, and they will give you more.
  • Cross-selling and up-selling. Your sales force has not been able to reach every client and let them know about your newest products. Plus, your clients may have other needs your other products solve well.
  • Asking how well your company is serving them. How can you improve your service? Do they have any new product ideas? Would they be willing to provide a testimonial?

3. Set The Stage For Better Client Interactions

If you know there will be clients coming to your booth ahead of time, make it a place worthy of their visit:

  • Have a higher-level gift hidden away that staffers can give only to clients. You would be surprised how often that gift leads to clients opening up about another project you can do for them.
  • Have a more comfortable place in the booth for them to rest, and provide them food and drink. (This is much more the norm at European shows).
  • Introduce them as clients to top company executives in your booth, to make them feel more appreciated.

4. Be Prepared For Disgruntled Clients

At a trade show with thousands of attendees, it’s very likely that your booth will be visited by dissatisfied or even angry clients. Have a plan in place to respectfully deal with them, share it with all your booth staff, and you will be more likely to retain these clients:

  • Tell your booth staff that you recognize they are likely worried angry customers could visit the booth. Give them training on how to calm down and respond to angry client visitors.
  • Tell your booth staffers who is the point person to handle the worst of these frustrated clients, either a top executive or a customer service manager who is also staffing.
  • Know where the closest place to get food is, and if you have a persistently angry client, offer to buy them a cup of coffee to talk further. You don’t want other booth visitors to hear your ongoing conversation.

Your B2B business only exists because you have clients who buy from you. Treat your clients who visit you at trade shows with respect, empathy, and partnership, and you will retain more of their business, generating greater repeat sales and profits.

Samuel Smith
Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award-winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from EXHIBITORLIVE, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology.


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