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Selling at Trade Shows and How to Discover Your Ideal Customer

September 18, 2018
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Selling at trade shows is an opportunity that cannot be compared to any other type of marketing. While most marketing dollars are spent with the hope of someday getting face-to-face with your target prospect, trade shows deliver the most efficient way to this objective.

Unfortunately, most salespeople would not agree. At MEET, we hear from sales teams all the time about their anguish when it comes to selling at trade shows. Why? Because after committing time and resources to attend an event, they simply feel it does not deliver quality prospects. In others words, selling at trade shows feels like a big waste of time.

Forty years of event experience has taught us that there are many Selling at Trade Showsreasons why salespeople feel disenfranchised after trade shows. (Check out our recent webinar EVERYONE is NOT a PROSPECT: How to Focus and Win at Trade Shows for these lessons learned). Among the chief reasons is that organizations or companies fail to take the necessary steps to identify their ideal customer.

An ideal customer is a buyer that you want to replicate over and over and over again. “Ideal” is not a qualifier that can be superimposed; it is not who you aspire to be your best customers. It is quantifiably defined as those who have the most NEED, the most RESOURCES, and the most URGENCY for your product or service. We say, to be a prospect someone must NEED, MONEY, and NOW.

Here are three steps to discovering your ideal customer:

Step 1: Identify your best selling product or service

If you have multiple products or services, select one based on the best selling, the largest, or the one you want to grow the most.

Step 2: Use historical data analysis and institutional knowledge

Use the information that is available to you to uncover trends. Are there groups of customer types that rise to the top? Are there individuals within those groups you consistently sell to?

Step 3: Characterize your ideal customer

Selling at Trade Shows

An ideal customer is a buyer that you want to replicate over and over and over again.

Uncover an archetype of your ideal customer. Who is performing best for you based on your organizational goals—growth, profit margin, etc.?

Selling at trade shows as a B2B versus B2C company will determine whether you are seeking to identify a specific individual or groups of individuals through this process. It will also determine the variety of attributes you will use to develop your buyer personas.

Attributes you might use as a B2B company include:
• Industry
• Market segment
• Size
• Revenue
• Profitability
• Location
• Mode
• Unique dynamic

What industry is your ideal customer in? What market segment are they coming from and how big are they? What’s their annual revenue? Profitability? Are they geographically centered somewhere or are they distributed? Mode refers to their stability as a company. Are they in tough spot, are they growing, are they laissez-faire or even keel, or are they over-confident? Finally, unique dynamics that help to define a company are situations that make them in need of your solution, for example a new regulatory challenge or recent IPO.

B2C will look at a different set of attributes, though some are overlapping.

• Age
• Gender
• Ethnicity
• Income
• Net worth
• Location
• Mode
• Unique dynamic

Discovering your ideal customer requires that you work to define these individuals or organizations as tightly as possible. In doing this work, you may find that one or two or three of these attributes are most telling. Moving through these simple steps will get you there.

Selling at trade shows is an opportunity to get face-to-face with your ideal customer. Design your booth to speak directly to these individuals and watch as your sales team changes their tune.


MEET ( helps B2B growth companies and pavilion hosts 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.