How to handle Post-Trade Show Trauma

You had a successful time at a trade show. You were able to attract a lot of attendees to your booth or tabletop display. You gathered several good leads. You had great conversations. Promises were made.

Then, a few weeks later, crickets.

Your phone calls and emails are not being returned.

And if you do reach a prospect, you are getting the brush off, or the famous “do I know you” attitude.

What happened?

You just experienced post-trade show trauma.

What is post-trade show trauma? It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that all the time and money you invested in attending a trade show went right down the drain.

Here’s the problem with attending trade shows as a vendor – you and attendees get blinded by too much enthusiasm. After all, trade shows are high energy events. Lots of drinking. Lots of talking. Lots of partying. Lots of sharing war stories. Lots of exchanging business cards. Lots of doing sales pitches and presentations. Lots of back-slapping.

But when you return home, reality begins to set in.

Your prospects begin to develop cold feet about speaking with you.

Why?

Several reasons.

First, they don’t have the budget to make purchasing decisions. Sure, they may have told you that they are expecting a large grant or major bucks from an angel investor, but the money hasn’t shown up yet. At least, not right now.

Second, they are not the decision maker as they promised you. Now, they are too ashamed and embarrassed to admit it, so they duck your calls. He said he was a sales manager? Really!?! Then why does his LinkedIn profile say he’s a summer intern whose daddy paid his way to attend his first grown-up trade show. Oops, you didn’t see that coming, didn’t you?

Third, maybe they are the decision maker, but they can’t make a…..decision because they are too overwhelmed with pressing or urgent projects. When crises hit, it’s the decision maker to the rescue. As for you, you’re lucky if you end up on the proverbial back burner before he returns your phone calls.

Whatever the reason, you need to remain calm.

When you sell, especially enterprise products and services, you must be prepared to play the long game. You’re not the only vendor in town vying for the attention and business of your prospect.

Sure, you may have had a great conversation with your prospect at your booth, but a few booths down from you, that same prospect may have had a better discussion with your competitor.

Now, you’re screwed.

Or, maybe not.

Be patient. Keep your pipeline full. Set the right priorities.

Eventually, the post-trade show trauma will disappear once the orders start coming in.

Note: If you like this post, please read my book — Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

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