Measuring Milestones in your Trade Show Strategy

In our recent post, The Case for Calculating Trade Show ROI, we talked about the value of measuring trade show return on investment and provided some simple measures of success to get you started.

Trade Show ROIWhile every sales process looks slightly different, each is characterized by a number of stages or milestones from initial contact to contract. In this post, we’ll explore where and how metrics can be applied to these milestones to better inform your marketing and sales strategy.

5 Milestones to Achieving a Sale

  1. Contact: This is your initial awareness of the individual you suspect may qualify as a prospect.
  2. Prospect: You’ve qualified your suspect as a prospect by establishing an apparent need, the resources to fulfill that need, and urgency for a solution, i.e. NEED, MONEY, NOW.
  3. 1st Meeting: You have held a first meeting with the decision-maker to qualify interest and lay the groundwork for the relationship. Second or third meetings may be necessary during this stage.
  4. Proposal: In the B2B context, a proposal is delivered to clarify the statement of work, goods or services.
  5. Contract: The point at which revenue begins to flow or a purchase order is secured.

Again, while each sale will require a slightly different allocation of time and resources, applying a standard matrix to the process is a valuable first step to measuring for success.

The Marketing Funnel

At MEET, we like to think of the process of achieving Milestones 1 and 2 and 3 as a marketing funnel to the extent that initial contacts are moved through a lead nurturing process that over time builds increasing amounts of trust.

For a visual of MEET’s marketing funnel, check out this post.

At the top of the funnel, when engaging with contacts or suspects, are marketing awareness activities such as social media, advertisements and event presence. Once the contact has established interest in the product or service, there is movement down the funnel toward Milestone 2.

Prospect nurturing activities start to build intimacy. They include webinars, white papers and other materials that demonstrate to the individual precisely how their unique solution can be solved through your product or service.

The bottom of the funnel (Milestone 3) occurs once the prospect has established initial trust in you and your solution and is ready to begin the sales process by setting a first meeting with the sales team.

The Transition from Marketing to Sales

Trade Show ROIThe distinguishing factor in B2B sales, particularly those initiated through trade show marketing, is the transition in responsibility from marketing to sales. Again, the goal of the marketing funnel is to employ an array of awareness and trust-building tools that nurture prospects to the point where they are ready to engage with the sales team, transitioning from a passive prospect to an active one.

From a metrics perspective, milestones are an extremely useful way to measure the success of different marketing strategies based on their ability to move contacts down the funnel and into the hands of your sales team.

Measuring the time and resources associated with this transition from marketing to sales, and within sales between first meeting and contract, are critical inputs to resource maximization. For example, knowing that each proposal requires an average of five meetings indicates the time and resources that will be needed at the point of transition to close a sale.

While every sales process will be unique, setting a standard or benchmark will improve your capacity to accurately measure your marketing strategy’s ROI. Using the transition point between marketing and sales in your sales pipeline is a great place to start.

For more on how to use metrics to inform your trade show marketing plan, check out our recent webinar: Benchmarks, Goals, Metrics, and ROI: Everything You Need to Know About Measuring Trade Show Results.


MEET ( helps B2B growth companies effectively leverage at trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward. Contact Bill Kenney at MEET today for a free trade show participation assessment or +1 (860) 573-4821.

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