Consult Carson 6/29: “How can I make trade shows and events profitable?”

From today’s mailbag: “My company sends me to a lot of networking events and trade shows, but I rarely see results from them in the way of sales.  Any recommendation?”

Carson: There are varying level of warmth of leads.  It is very important that we manage our leads and prioritize them based on warmth because the ones that are the warmest will be the ones that keep us warm during those chilly selling periods where we resort on cold calling and networking events.  That said, each and every day we are planting seeds that will grow into future sales harvest.  We are beginning relationships that will bear fruit at some unforeseeable point down the road.

While some of these networking event contacts may have an immediate need you can fill, remember why they are likely at the event or trade show to begin with – to sell.  Your best way in with any potential new customer or contact is to focus on giving rather than receiving – to add value and to earn their respect and trust and partnership by offering to aid them first.

1. What do you have to offer of value to those you interact with at these events?  Treat it just like any other selling opportunity – ask questions, learn about them and what they do, find out their target customer and their hot-button priorities and figure out how you can potentially help them.  Can you connect them with someone who would benefit them?  Can you recommend someone who could benefit from them?  They will have a vested interest in working with you and continuing the conversation if you provide them ample reason to.

2. Don’t rule anyone out.  You literally never know who you will come into contact with at these events.  You may come into direct contact with decision makers, with people who can introduce you to decision makers or to people who will refer you to contacts of theirs it would behoove you to meet.  Always keep an open mind as to where these conversations can go.  Don’t stress.  Not every lead will lead to a sale, but you literally never know when a new contact can pop up again or who they can put you in touch with.

3. Remember the law of averages.  Marketing dictates that your sale will typically occur after fifth contact; these contacts can be from seeing an ad for your brand, meeting you, getting your follow up call, and having a colleague of theirs speak highly of you or your product.  Make each contact a quality one, including the first impression, and every step of the sales cycle will enhance your probability of successfully realizing revenue from the relationship.

4. Look at the types of shows or events you are going to.  Are they the most applicable to what you have to offer?  Is there a better audience you should be in front of?  If you have any say or control over which you partake in, be willing to try anything – don’t discriminate against any potential revenue streams.  Be a resource to as many groups as you can so that word of your value can spread!

5. Follow up.  Most sales seedlings die relatively quickly because they are not given the opportunity to grow.  Did you collect business cards?  Do you have a roster of event attendees?  Have you reached back out to those you met, whether connecting on LinkedIn, sending an e-mail, calling, or all of the above?  You can’t give out a business card and expect someone to just magically call you.  It’s possible, but you don’t stand out as the unique, best option unless you are following up on your proposal to add value.  Continue to find ways to stay in touch with your target audience, be it from initial follow up, newsletters, and relevant content you post on social media that your new contacts can see.

Every method of obtaining leads has its place and validity.  While you want to put your warmest leads first, you can certainly find the start of new business relationships anywhere at any time.  Be ready!  And be ready to provide value up front and as time goes on.


Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership.  You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving.  You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page:

Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.

If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to

About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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