Skip to Content

3 Ways To Get Sales Out Of a Conference Or Trade Show (Without Sponsoring It!)

3 Ways To Get Sales Out Of a Conference Or Trade Show (Without Sponsoring It!)

Customers and prospects may find the details of certain events will fade from their memories not long after they’re back at the office. A sales pro that uses an event to help them succeed, on the other hand, will prove unforgettable.

There’s barely time to think when you’re in the midst of a major conference or trade show. It’s easy to be inundated by all the opportunities to learn, connect with new people and (hopefully) generate some sales.

If you’re with an organization that’s formally sponsoring a trade show or conference and setting up a booth, that last step may look fairly easy. With some eye-catching signage, a demo station and maybe some fun swag items like a T-shirt or stress ball, customers and prospects may willingly walk up and begin conversations that lead to a closed deal before too long.

For many other sales reps, though — particularly those working for small and medium-sized businesses without a large marketing budget — driving revenue opportunities at events is a matter of walking around and working the exhibit halls and sessions. Many great sales professionals manage to develop good potential wins this way, but the pros recognize that the days and weeks immediately following the event are not to be ignored.

Just like the companies sponsoring or exhibiting, the attendees at a conference or trade show are also incredibly busy while they’re on site. It’s once they go back to the office that they may begin to think about how to apply what they heard and bring more value to their organization. With the right approach — and leveraging the data you’ll find in CRM tools such as Sales Cloud — a savvy sales professional can help them deliver that value.

1. Scan For What Stood Out On Social

There was a time when what happened at a conference or trade show largely stayed at the conference or trade show (whether it was hosted in Las Vegas or not). Social media services like Twitter changed all that, of course, with not only event organizers but many of those in the audience documenting their experience as it happens for the benefit of their followers. No wonder so many event organizers work hard to promote a particular hashtag to put alongside all those social postings.

Sales pros could begin their research process by looking through the tweets or posts associated with those hashtags. If some of those sharing highlights from the conference or trade show include customers and prospects, it will be easy to get a sense of what topics or issues resonated with them.

There’s nothing wrong with making mention of those social postings when you’re reaching out via email or phone — it demonstrates that you’re paying attention.

And if your customers and prospects weren’t live-tweeting or sharing information on social, their competitors or other influencers that matter to them likely did. Look for information that could help back up what you’ll be pitching later.

2. Make Use Of The Media Coverage

Besides social media, there are still a lot of traditional outlets who regularly send editors, reporters, bloggers or even videographers to interview speakers and attendees about their take on the trade show or conference themes.

As a sales professional, you build more credibility by leveraging this content and positioning it as thought leadership you’ve curated for a customer or prospect on their behalf. At most events it’s physically impossible for attendees to be everywhere at once, so if you have a sense of what interests them already (based on data in Sales Cloud, for instance), you can either ensure they didn’t miss something important or reinforce the fact that you’re aligned with their priorities.

Don’t just send links to articles and videos, though — always build on the content you curate by highlighting what resonated with you, how it relates to the products and services you sell, and so on.

3. Address The Keynote CTAs

Even if attendees don’t stay for the entire conference or trade show, they might have been drawn in to hear from an outstanding keynote speaker. This could be a legendary business leader, the founder of a hot startup brand or simply one of their peers who has overcome a big challenge or has unique lessons to offer.

As the name suggests, a keynote sets the tone for the rest of the event, usually by making clear why the conference theme is vital at a particular point in time. Usually, near the end of their speech, the person delivering the keynote will send off the audience with some recommended action items that could get them to a similar point of success. These could be a set of bullet points or a single rallying cry to change they way they approach their business.

If you were taking notes during that speech along with everyone else, tailor your outreach to customers and prospects by showing where your firm can assist with the speaker’s call to action. Maybe you sell a tool that can get tasks done that contribute to a strategic shift. Maybe your services include analysis and insights to fill in gaps needed to make the speaker’s CTA achievable. Or maybe the speaker left something out of their CTA, and you can help the customer or prospect see what it is.

And what if you didn’t take notes — or didn’t even get to the conference or trade show until the second day? No worries. You still have social media and traditional media to fall back on. Better yet, many events offer slides of the main presentations to all attendees after the fact. That could make it even easier to build the speaker’s CTA into your own pitch deck.


Bear in mind that when you follow up after a conference or trade show, you’re far from alone. The event organizer may have already provided a full list of attendees to sponsors, who have immediately begun outreach of their own.

As a sales professional, you can only compete with that by being as relevant and as personalized as possible based on the information you use, including data from Sales Cloud.

Customers and prospects may find the details of certain events will fade from their memories not long after they’re back at the office. A sales pro that uses an event to help them succeed, on the other hand, will prove unforgettable.

5 secrets of the most productive salespeople. Get the ebook.

Get timely updates and fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.