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5 Quick Measurements to Improve Your Trade Show Results

February 13, 2016

By Mike Thimmesch

Your boss, and especially your boss’s boss, want you to measure your trade show ROI.  But with your longer B2B sales cycle, you won’t know the sales generated from each show for months, maybe years.  And that’s assuming you can get access to the sales data in the first place.

So here are 5 things you can measure during and right after your show.  Things that matter.  Things that will help you not only justify your program, but drastically improve it.  So if and when you finally do get actual sales numbers, they’ll be worth measuring.

1. Qualified Leads Per Show

Chances are you are already counting the number of leads you get at each show.  For example, at the XYZ show you got 100 leads, at the ZYX show you got 200 leads, and so on.  Raw lead counts are a starting point, but you can go one step beyond.  Train your trade show booth staff to consistently rate each lead for quality.

While there are varying methods to qualified leads, here’s one you can use, or adapt to your own needs:

“A” Quality Leads:  Have budget, authority, need, and a short time frame to purchase.

“B” Quality Leads: Have authority and a future need, but no approved budget.  Or, have a need, but no authority or budget.

“C” Quality Leads: Have authority, but no need or budget.

You can choose to compare only “A” quality lead counts from show to show, or “A” and “B” quality lead counts from show to show.  This one step alone will enable you to better judge the value of each show on your schedule.  And you’ll have a better metric to judge a show right immediately after it’s over.  You can even go the next step and compare the number of qualified leads per dollar spent per show.

With this metric in hand, you can decide which shows to expand in and which to cut back on.  And of course, this only matters if your main goal is lead generation.

2. Number of Leads Per Staffer

You may think you know who your best booth staffers are just by looking at them.  They’re your friendliest people, who can chat with anybody, right?  But during the show you’ll be too busy running around your trade show display to notice they’re actually just chatting up their fellow booth staffers, or ingratiating themselves to the top company brass.  Or worse, they are not able to convert visitors into leads, because they simply don’t know enough about your clients’ needs or your products.  So what do you do?

To determine which staffers are your real stars, count how many leads they took each day.  That means you have to include a spot on your lead cards for staffers to put their name or initials.  (And be careful about two staffers with the same initials!)  If you don’t use a lead card, you still need to find a method to identify who took each lead.  Want to measure even closer?  Calculate how many leads each staffer takes per hour they staffed.

I’ve seen staffers who looked like wallflowers, yet took 400% more leads than other, more sociable staffers.  If you count every staffer’s total leads, you will then know which highly productive staffers to bring back for future shows.  And make a huge difference in your results.

It’s good to check written leads very early in the show to ensure each staffer is at least writing their name or initials on them.  Otherwise, after the show you have to become a handwriting expert!

3. Completeness of Leads

You want more than just quantity, you want quality.  So check your leads during the show to see if each booth staffer is writing complete leads.  Find a booth staffer who is just writing their name on the lead card?  Take them aside and show them what’s missing: Lead quality level, comments about what the visitor’s main problems are and how your products solve them, and what the staffer promised the booth visitor they’d do next.

Help your staffer see that if they invest an extra couple of minutes recording what the client said and what they promised the attendee, your field sales person will know which leads are truly worth following up right away, and which to nurture over time.

You can measure the completeness of your leads starting an hour or two into the show.  And it will boost your results so they are worth measuring.

4. Qualified Leads Per Booth Staffer Per Hour Worked

If you have done #1, #2 and #3, now you can also readily calculate this.  It’s the number of “A” or “A” and “B” leads a staffer takes on average per hour they staff your booth. This is like the slugging percentage in baseball that combines batting average and number of extra base hits into one statistic.  When you find staffers that take an above-average number of qualified leads per hour, show after show, make sure they’re on your varsity traveling booth staff team!

5. Ratio of Leads Generated By A Promotion Compared To That Promotion’s Percent of Your Show Budget

Trade show attendees only visit about 5% of the exhibits at a show.  Promotions are your secret weapon in the battle against limited time and other exhibitors.  You need promotions that incent attendees to leave the aisle, enter your booth, and engage with you.  But there are nearly infinite choices, some good and some bad.

At one show we gave away a free trip to Hawaii – quite an investment – but while the mailer and trip cost 10% of our show budget, 60% of our leads either brought the pre-show mailer about the trip into the booth, or were stopped by the offer in the aisle.  Spend 10% more to get 60% more leads?  Any day.  Calculate this ratio with all your promotions, and you’ll figure out which promos to repeat, and which to leave in your desk drawer.  All you need to do is identify which leads were initiated by the promotion.

Your efforts to measure your trade show results don’t have to be held hostage to your long sales cycle or an inaccessible sales database.   These 5 measurements will help you make immediate improvements in your trade show performance.



Need help estimating the return on investment your company gets from exhibiting at a trade show? Or need help tracking costs and identifying new leads and sales opportunities?

Then these are the tools for you! Request your free worksheets today. Complete the form below and we will send you these two Excel spreadsheets today!

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