By Jenny Vance via TechPoint 

Trade shows are great prospecting platforms to get in front of many key executives in one day, all at one time. Whether you are investing in booth space or tickets, a prospecting strategy in advance of the show will help you get the most from your investment and yield a higher ROI.

There are three pillars of success to every trade show prospecting campaign:

Pillar #1: Know your audience. Approaching prospects with knowledge about them and their industry is very effective in breaking the ice. Find commonalities between your current clients and prospects, and use it in your scripting. Look for as many connections as possible to build credibility and make the call more purposeful. A good way to do this is to mention a mutual LinkedIn connection, or a group or association they may share with an existing client of yours.

We do a lot of work for customers before the HIMSS Show, one of the largest and busiest healthcare IT trade shows. It’s difficult to break through the clutter at a show this size, so knowing the audience is crucial. Here is how we scripted one call for this show:

“We work with other companies that target the healthcare industry and belong to the CHIME association. I am specifically reaching out regarding the upcoming HIMSS show.”

This approach shows that we understand the prospect’s industry and have knowledge about their associations.

If you’re concerned about reps spending time to research prospects, look for an external data research team that can build lists based on these criteria. Hiring a data team has many benefits, including requiring just half the investment required for a sales rep do the research, and yielding more appointments.

Pillar #2: Develop a clear campaign strategy. For high-yield shows, use a three-tiered campaign approach I call PAT. PAT stands for a pre-show, at-show and the post show strategy for scripting, messaging and overall marketing.

Pre-show: Schedule pre-show conference calls so prospects know who you are and what you do by the time you meet at the show. As large shows become more saturated, use relevant collateral in your digital marketing.

At show: Executives are attending with two goals in mind: to get new leads, and gain insights on new products and solutions. A few weeks prior to the show, adjust messaging to drive at-show appointments where you can contribute to that “education” component they are looking to gain. That way they are returning to the office with new leads, as well as new business strategies.

The Post show: Use rep assignment and lead rating to determine follow up. Ask reps to own “A” leads, and distribute “B” and “C” leads to your inside sales team for more timely follow up, and to make sure no leads fall through the cracks. Don’t only follow up with the prospects you met at the show. Have data research harvest additional leads within accounts and warm up the call by referencing your at-show meeting with their colleague.

Pillar #3: Make appointments sticky. Trade shows are hectic and unpredictable, so go the extra distance to make sure appointments occur. You can do this by capturing cell phone and booth numbers in advance, and encouraging prospects to meet away from the booth in order to avoid distraction. At the show, reps can text prospects 30 minutes prior to meeting time, as an extra reminder.

Trade show prospecting can be a hefty investment, but can also yield some of the year’s highest ROI if done right. With new technology and social media, it is not all about “meeting” at the booth anymore, but using prospecting as a way to nurture and build relationships that grow your company.

Considered as one of the Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management by SLMA, Jenny Vance is president of LeadJen, a B2B lead generation company. She can be reached at or on Twitter @jennyvanceindy.