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Building Stronger Sales and Marketing Trade Show Teams

How would you help marketers and sales people work in tandem more seamlessly during a trade show?

That’s the question Ardath Albee recently asked when commenting on another blog post I’d written.  It’s a good question, as the economic hardships of the last couple of years have accelerated the need for sales and marketing teams to better cooperate.   Wouldn’t you like a little less rumble and a little more kumbaya between your sales and marketing?

Here are some ideas about what you can do before, during, and after a trade show to help your sales and marketing players become a more cohesive team.

Before the trade show:

  • Set and communicate the show goals, which include both sales and marketing metrics, like number of leads, sales revenue generated, new product introductions, and increased brand awareness, so both groups see they have strong reasons for ensuring success
  • Ask sales what information they want gathered from booth visitors at the show, and get that on the lead card, so they feel valued
  • Work together to set in-booth appointments before the show
  • Train both sales and marketing how to work a trade show booth, so they are less nervous and less likely to turn on each other
  • Take them out to dinner the night before the show to get them acquainted or reunited with each other

Just before the trade show:

  • Let each staffer introduce themselves to the booth staff team, and tell what they want to get out of staffing at the show
  • Tell your sales and marketing people that it’s okay to ask each other for help with booth visitor questions they don’t know the answer to (pricing, new product info, etc.)
  • Re-emphasize that each booth staffer needs to record what booth visitors were interested in, and what follow up was promised, so the sales person who receives the lead can make a good follow up phone call
  • In the rush before the show opens, be sure to treat the sales and marketing people equally — don’t ask the marketing assistant to load up the staplers, but treat the sales director as a visiting dignitary

In your trade show display during show floor hours:

  • Try to balance the number of sales and marketing people on each trade show booth staffing shift
  • Casually mention to a marketing person on the booth staff team when a sales person gets a great lead, and likewise, tell a sales person when a marketing booth staffer gets a great lead
  • Hold sales and marketing booth staffers equally accountable during show hours — if a marketing manager hides behind a table or a top sales performer only chats with his neighbor, coach them with the same level of urgency

After the trade show:

  • Report to the booth staffers how they all either achieved or did not achieve the show goals — let them know how sales and marketing performed as a team
  • Share anecdotes from the booth staffers, such as when a sales person spoke with a prospect who liked your new branding, or a marketing person who heard from a client how much they value their sales person’s customer service skills

While you would expect the at-show activities to matter most, I think what you do before the show is the most effective.  And reporting results after the show helps solidify gains made for the next show.

Do you need to do all this at every show?  That depends on how wide the gap is between your sales and marketing teams.  But if you employ some of these tactics, you may find that the gap between your sales and marketing groups gets smaller, while the results you create together get bigger.

How have you built stronger sales and marketing teams at trade shows?  Let us know in the comment box below.

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About the Author

Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

3 responses to “Building Stronger Sales and Marketing Trade Show Teams

  1. I really like your comment about treating the sales and marketing people the same. Once in the booth you are one team. Just like in the circus, doesn’t matter who you are you help set-up and tear down the tent.

  2. Pingback: Build A Better Team! | Skyline Toronto Blog
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