• Eric Misic

Stop Selling Exhibit Space— Start Selling Data

The information age has increased the transparency of the consumer-sales person dynamic. Customers are more informed than ever about the product or service, and about the company and salesperson themselves. The standard practice for consumers today is to Google everything before ever getting on the phone with you or your company. You and your brand are going to be scrutinized and reviewed by your social media profiles, reviews and referrals. All this information about you and about what others think of your brand leads consumers to form fully-fledged opinions before ever speaking with you directly (gulp…). The silver lining is that this transparency applies to you and your competitors equally. So, salespeople are left wondering what they can do to set themselves apart in the information age.


What does this environment mean for events?


Better yet, start by asking yourself, “Why are companies participating in events?” They believe that during the 2 to 5 days of the event, they are going to receive some return on their investment of company money, manpower, and time, which leads them directly to that dreaded and overused term: ROI.


Your customer or member organization is more informed than ever, and they are focused on increasing ROI. That can be achieved by reducing their spend or commitment to your event—a scenario in which everyone loses. To prevent this, even some of the most seasoned, successful, and smartest exhibit sales professionals lead their sales pitch with “we have a great space available at the front of the trade show floor.” But the size and location of available space doesn’t tell customers anything about their proposed ROI.


Stop selling exhibit spaceStart selling the data!


Differentiate yourself by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and offering them the event data that is most relevant to their ROI. Whether you are selling exhibit space, membership, sponsorships or widgets, the same rules apply. What data from your event is relevant to your customers? Some of you are already doing it – do pie charts with job titles breakdown in your sales prospectus ring a bell? Show customers the locations on your show floor that got the most on-site check-ins, or which signage had the highest number of social media posts last year.


Know the information that your customer is craving about your product and service and deliver it in spades. Here are a few more data delivery ideas for event sales professionals: (Hint: Look to your event partners.)


  1. Provide your exhibitors and sponsors with post-show justification reports.

  2. Showcase the number of leads or scans an exhibitor received compared to competitors in similar size and product categories.

  3. Harvest interaction data and create custom reports for top attendees using your event App.

  4. Identify key program sessions and the hours of highest engagement by aggregating social media data using your event hashtag.

  5. Supplement sponsorship deliverables with an on-site engagement report using Face-to-face meeting tools.

Show your exhibitors and sponsors you value their investment and that you are working to ensure they can operate efficiently in your event environment. When you do that, you’ll find that you are selling data first, rather than the environment, and that you will finally have an answer to that dreaded question, “What’s my ROI?”

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