I jumped onto Google and entered ‘why businesses exhibit’ into the search engine. Can you guess what consistently came up? It was ‘to generate targeted sales leads, ‘to meet prospective customers’ and ‘to close deals’.  No real surprise – and with good reason.

Exhibit Surveys, a US based company, has research to indicate that sales leads gathered at exhibitions are easier to close with only 0.8 calls needed to convert a qualified trade show lead compared to 3.7 calls to close a typical business sale. Another study by McGraw-Hill Research Foundation found that 54% of all orders placed as a result of a trade show lead require no personal follow-up visit!

To support these figures, Exhibit Surveys also found that on average, 64% of trade show attendees are NOT CUSTOMERS of the companies’ they visited at the show. Meaning…they are new business opportunities!

So, how can you maximise your lead generation and sales when you exhibit?

As a part of your trade show strategy, make sure you have established clear sales goals before the event. In doing so, give your team an objective, and ensure you have a simple way to capture leads that can be followed up easily.

When it comes to your booth design, focus on a layout that supports engaging conversations and building new and existing customer relationships. To assist you with your next booth design, let me share a


few things to consider for inclusion in your layout that will assist your team in gathering and qualifying more leads.

Trade Booth Design

Visitor Drawcard

Think of a reason to attract visitors to your stand in the first place – is it a competition, a giveaway, an activity, an event personality or an entertainer? You could consider hosting an event on or near your stand (if the organisers allow it). Whatever you come up with (and we encourage you to think outside the box) make sure it has relevance to your brand and key messages for the show. For example, we have suggested a popcorn machine when we were asking visitors to ‘pop in’ for a chat. The smell of freshly made popcorn was enough to draw visitors towards the stand, it was then up to the booth staff to make the connection. The play on things ‘popping up’ was a key theme throughout the communications in the lead up and at the event – and it all worked a treat! Who doesn’t love free popcorn?!

A Front Counter

Sometimes referred to as a registration desk, or even booth concierge, this is generally the first interaction point with visitors. Ensure it is big enough and manned by enough staff to ensure attendees don’t have to wait in queues – because they won’t!  If you have a pre-appointment system, ensure the check-in process is simple, quick and putting your best foot forward to represent your brand. Remember, first impressions count!

Meeting Spaces

These are to be used primarily for walk-up enquiries. Depending on your booth size and the product or service you are selling, you could use anything from a bar table and stools or a separate area (via dividing walls) with a table and chairs. It’s important that these areas are kept clean and available for use throughout the show. It’s not a great look to be moving a team members personal laptop and coffee cup when a prospects asks to chat with someone for more information!

Demonstration Areas

You’ve given your prospect your elevator pitch – so now prove it!  A demonstration area on your stand is essential to really take advantage of the face-to-face time you have with customers. This is your opportunity to show how your product works, or show them the great case studies of how your services have impacted your existing clients. These areas will be busy (ideally), so ensure you have enough of them and that they are positioned on the stand so that don’t compete for space. It’s OK for these areas to be ‘standing room only’, and for them to be visible as you walk past your stand. They will create interest and activity on your stand, which will draw even more people in. As a suggestion, have an option for visitors to schedule a demonstration throughout the show duration if they don’t have time to stop at that moment, or if all your stands are occupied.

Immersive Experience Areas

These are the ultimate selling tools for a trade show. Although not suitable for all products or services, if you can integrate a hands on experience onto your booth, prospects are likely to get a much better understanding of your offering. This area of your booth allows potential customers to visualise themselves using your product in their own world, breaking down one of the biggest barriers when selling. It’s the ultimate ‘try before you buy’ situation – and trade shows are an ideal way to reach vast numbers on this level.


Don’t forget to use the trade show to gather feedback from customers and prospects on your products and services. Surveys can be an arduous and sometimes expensive activity for Marketing Departments, however a trade show environment is a great way to get instant feedback from a large number of visitors.  Keep it short and ideally have it on a free-standing interactive device positioned in an area that makes it easy for visitors to access without feeling pressure from salespeople.

Trade shows are such a powerful way to reach new customers and give them a lasting experience with your brand. While these are all tips on what to consider when designing a booth to maximise sales, don’t forget the bigger picture. Ensure you have a clear trade show strategy and a strong supporting communication plan that aligns with your business objectives. A great environment is just one of the many pieces of the trade show puzzle that have to come together for exhibiting success!

Please get in touch if you would like more information on how we could assist you with your trade show strategy and booth design.

*This blog was originally posted in May 2017. It has been republished with updates in December 2021.