Finding the Decision-Makers at Trade Shows

Exhibiting at Technology trade shows isn’t easy, from the planning and logistics it takes to get there to the time and resources of setting up and being at the booth, as well as walking the show and attending sessions. With all the effort and expense, it’s important that there be a good outcome, which typically means leads and/or sales.

Too often, exhibitors do all the work to be at an IT trade show and they don’t maximize the show by doing important homework first. Half the secret to trade show success is doing work before the show. What does that mean? It means knowing who your best prospects are and reaching out to them before the show. Here are the best ways to find decision-makers at trade shows and to talk to them – setting you up for success.

1. Begin with a list of decision-maker titles

If you’re in marketing or sales, the first step is always to start with the business title of the person who needs your product or service. Because there can be a lot of variety in titles, it’s best to think broadly here. One great way to look at the variety of titles that are used is to open that drawer of business cards that you’ve been acquiring and start to list out all the titles that your customers and prospects use.

Another important aspect of decision-maker titles is to think about everyone in the buying process. For a large or enterprise organization, that will include procurement. Be sure to include these titles in your list of best clients and prospects.

Leveraging tools that allow you to search for the decision makers – and important influencers – can make the difference in a successful, results-driven trade show experience, or one that is not worth the time of potentially taking some of your best sales people out of the office for multiple days.

2. Use LinkedIn

If you’re not using it now, start to use LinkedIn as a powerful sales and marketing tool. It’s possible to explore organizations in your target verticals, then search and select by title (as you did in Step 1 above), geographic location around the conference or trade show, and by industry. Here’s a great example of how you can select by software or IT services, for example.

If you’d like to take this further, there are great books about maximizing LinkedIn (yes, real printed books), as well as a variety of tutorials on YouTube, including this one about mining prospect and client information.

3. Geo-fencing an event by prospect information

There’s another way to reach decision-makers, and that’s by geofencing trade shows or tech conferences. When you geofence, you reach everyone who goes into the location you’ve fenced in. For example, if you want to reach CIOs and high-level executives in technology, you can geofence a trade show or event and set household earning levels that fall within your desired range.

Think about the possibilities with the biggest tech conferences, or even select ones, like the Pulse Conference! Once you know the specifics about your target prospect, you can use all kinds of ways to find and segment them, including the types of phones or browsers that they use.

4. Make appointments at the show

Once you’ve decided which shows are right for your organization, nothing feels more productive and encouraging than boarding your flight with several appointments on the books with key prospects and customers. Make sure you reach out to your target decision-makers and ask to meet them at the show. It doesn’t have to be at your booth; set up a time to have coffee to talk about what they liked and didn’t like about the show, for a lunch at the convention center café, or even dinner.

The key here is to start a relationship with key decision-makers, whether you’re at the largest tech conferences or a local/regional event. Statistics say that one face-to-face meeting equals eight digital touches. Sales don’t typically happen immediately so be sure to do your homework first, reach out, and pre-book those key connections at the show.