7 Tips to ATD Trade Show Success {a Checklist} by Aleshia Humphries

Posted on May 2, 2019 in Blog, Meeting/Event Planning, Principles of Success, Training and HR

Exhibiting at trade shows can be an incredibly effective promotional tool if done right. Whether you are wildly successful or a total flop depends a great deal on your advance preparation, and how you determine qualified and unqualified leads.

By implementing certain steps, you can lower the cost of your sales process and improve your overall ATD trade show ROI.

Of course, in a world of websites, emails, and voice mails, the ATD trade show offers a unique opportunity to build relationships with face-to-face contact. Of course, the number one goal of exhibiting at ATD is to increase the number of qualified leads in your pipeline, and ultimately your sales revenue.  However, it is also important to set realistic and quantifiable goals, as well as a process to verify if the goals were met.

The tips below will help you address these goals while helping you make the most of your time at the trade show – IF you create an action plan BEFORE the show:

  1. Resist the urge to scan everyone who walks by your booth.
    • This may seem obvious, but it is critical to later success.
    • Remember that the key is to increase qualified leads, not to create busy work for your sales team to wade through hundreds of unqualified leads after the show.
    • Define what is considered a “qualified” lead versus an “unqualified” lead.
  1. Increase QUALITY traffic to your booth by reaching out to your highest target prospects before the show.
    • Take advantage of pre-show direct mailers and email campaigns.
    • Send a letter or postcard invitation to select prospects you’d really like to stop by your booth.
    • Include a promotional offer they can take advantage of if they stop by the booth. For example, a Starbucks gift card might be incentive enough for your high target prospects, and any unused gift cards can be used at other company events so your investment will not be wasted.
  2. Create a specific follow-up action for every badge scanned.
    • “Send info” or “call after the show” is not specific enough.
    • Be as detailed with your follow-up requirement as possible so that your salespeople are not wasting time trying to sell to non-decision makers. Otherwise, unqualified or non-specific leads will bog down your sales pipeline.
  3. Take breaks to remain fresh and alert. Enjoy a quick break from the conference floor by stopping in at the MTG Sponsored Exhibitor Lounge* for some complimentary refreshments – coffee, tea, and water available. This is a good time to make note of any important conversations you’ve had and determine your follow-up approach/timing for each. (*The ATD Exhibitor Lounge is located at the end of the 1300 aisle, near the sales office.)
  4. Commit to sticking around for 15-30 minutes immediately after the show lights go out at the end of each conference day.
    • Go over each badge scanned while the info is still fresh in your mind.
    • Quickly note any details of each conversation – needs, interests, business challenges, etc.
    • Have a follow-up plan in place to ensure you know exactly what to do with each lead when you get back to the office.
  5. Categorize leads and customize follow up.
    • Have a clear understanding with all your booth workers as to what is considered a qualified lead versus an unqualified lead.
    • Categorize every lead accordingly.
    • Don’t lump every prospect into one general category to receive a generic follow up email.
    • Every qualified lead should have a specific follow-up action unique to that lead. Be specific.
    • Refer back to your conversation from the show, detailed notes regarding their situation, or any specific needs. This is where your notes from #4 above will come in handy! In this way, it’s easier to pick up where you left off than to treat the prospect as a “cold lead.”
  6. Track Results & Measure ROI
    • Calculate the number of qualified leads from the show and track each over time. Compare to the expense of exhibiting to determine your ROI:
      • # of appointment seen within 3 months after event
      • # of new appointments booked for the future
      • # of proposals written within 6 months and approximate dollar value
      • #/dollar value of signed contracts within 1 year


Exhibiting at a trade show can be expensive without proper sales planning. Be sure to warm up leads before the show, document conversations, and follow up with each in a timely manner post-event. Each prospect will “cost you something,” so make sure you’re investing in those that are true decision-makers — don’t waste your efforts with non-decision makers.

If you would like to supplement your list of training and HR contacts, we have a solution for you. Mentor Tech Group specializes in marketing to the training industry.  Now celebrating our 20th year in business, MTG KNOWS your sales and marketing needs! Our custom-built directory of more than 40,000 TRAINING & HR decision-makers is just the thing to boost your sales and get your pipeline working more efficiently.

Contact us to learn more! PHONE: (651) 457-8600, Ext. 1.

To request a visit with your MTG rep at the ATD conference, please call or fill out our Contact Us form and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Wishing you a FANTASTIC ATD Conference!

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