How VARs Can Make the Most of a Trade Show

Trade shows can be an excellent way for VARs to find new prospects for their sales teams, but if done incorrectly or without a well thought out strategy they can also become money pits

4 Min Read
How VARs Can Make the Most of a Trade Show


Trade shows can be an excellent way for VARs to find new prospects for their sales teams, but if done incorrectly or without a well thought out strategy they can also become money pits that are not worth the time or effort.  These activities can be a lot of work and take a lot of your team’s time. Here are some tips for sponsoring a trade show that will help VARs improve their bottom line and justify the cost of a trade show.

The first step towards a successful trade show is to find the right shows to attend. There are literally thousands of technology related trade shows a year, so selecting the right ones to attend is not an easy task. When creating a list of potential shows, look for ones that are in target geographies and then narrow the shows down to ones in your target verticals. Often times the largest tech shows are great for branding purposes but since the goal of a trade show it to meet with potential customers, they can be difficult to identify at large shows, making these shows less important for VARs.

From there look at who attends the shows. If it is an education show, is it mostly teachers, or are there IT directors or at least school administrators with purchasing authority? Ask yourself, if you were calling the company, would the person you would like to speak with likely to be at the show. The answer to this question will help you decide if this is the show for your company.

Finally, when choosing a show look at the overall cost –- not just the cost of sponsoring or getting booth space. How much will shipping, marketing activities, giveaways and other expenses add up to? Then compare this to how much business you think the show will generate. If the expenses are higher than the potential return, the decision is made for you.

Take advantage of all trade show offers

Many trade shows offer free or very inexpensive ways to market your business at the show. Take advantage of some, or even all, of these opportunities. Some common opportunities include; ad space in the trade show publication, putting branded merchandise in attendee’s bags etc.  Chose the ones that offer the most exposure and make sure to meet all deadlines.

Make sure you have all the material you need

This may seem like it goes without saying, but I’ve seen many booths at trade shows with no literature, or no way to demo their products because someone forgot to pack all the supplies. Make a list of your goals for the show then make sure you have a list of all the items you will need.

Send the right people

Possibly the most important way to ensure a successful trade show is to send the right people to staff your booth. Once again, trade shows are valuable because they offer face to face time with potential clients –- and all VARs know this is the best way to get your message across. This means the people standing in your booth need to make a good first impression. Booth staff should be friendly and knowledgeable as well as able to be outgoing and initiate conversations. Very rarely do attendees walk right into a booth asking questions. More often than not they are walking by and the staff must “pull them in” by asking their own questions. For this reason it is important for your staff to be comfortable approaching show attendees. Be sure to train your booth staff about proper booth etiquette. If your staff spends their time checking their phones and email, or chatting with each other rather than attendees your company is missing out on opportunities to speak with potential customers.

It is also important to note that working a booth at a trade show can be an exhausting activity. So, make sure you have enough booth staff present to cover breaks and give everyone a chance to unwind.

Bring in vendor help if you need it

And finally, for some VARs, trade shows are a new endeavor, for others they simply do not have enough resources to do an entire trade show on their own. Talk to your vendors and see what kind of support they can offer you. Some may help defer the cost of the event, while others may attend with you to help you deliver your message. This can be invaluable support, especially if this is the first time you’ve done a trade show. Vendors benefit from these shows as well so even if they can’t attend the show, they can offer advice and other forms of assistance.

Bob Darabant VP Americas

Bob Darabant is VP of Astaro Americas. This monthly guest blog is part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship program. Read all of Darabant’s guest blog entries here.

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