Conversations at trade showsThousands of B2B companies like yours attend trade shows every year, and while your presence is a valuable marketing tool, you can’t forget supporting marketing assets. I’m not referring to a brochure, catalog, or a business card. I’m talking about your website.

I recently shadowed a manufacturing client at a trade show in order to gain insights into customer interactions, and I witnessed an interesting exchange. A prospect approached the trade show booth and was asking well-informed questions about particular manufacturing capabilities. He clearly knew his stuff and was a very qualified lead given that he asked about particular capabilities of the client.

Once the conversation wrapped up, our client’s sales rep offered the prospect a brochure. He took a business card instead and responded, "No thanks, it's all online right?"

Would that question spark a moment of panic if it happened to you?

Fact is, many companies go to trade shows prepared with a fancy exhibit, TV screens, giveaways, slick brochures and more. It’s what you don’t bring to the trade show – your website – that should concern you.

It’s extremely common for prospects to Google you or go to your company website after meeting you at a trade show. When they get to your website, what will they find? Do you provide enough information for the prospect to want to engage with your company again?

Is it all online?

Is your company being properly represented online by your website? You may think it is, but unless you’ve tested your website with real customers or had a second, non-biased set of eyes on it, there’s good reason for concern.

An in-person interaction with a prospect can show them your knowledge and expertise in a matter of minutes. By mentioning the right terminology, industry insights, shared experiences, etc. during the conversation, you can instantly come across as a source of knowledge and qualify yourself as a potential business partner.

With your website however, gaining that trust isn’t so easy. Many B2B websites are treated as an afterthought, just an item on a checklist, something you have to have so you can provide contact information.

Fact is, though, that B2B business transactions are complex, and people come to websites to research and learn, not always just to get contact information.

An effective website should be much more than your contact information. Your website should offer the same level of knowledge and portray the same sense of professionalism that you hope to show during in-person interactions.

How is that done, you ask?

Give a visitor the correct impression of your business and how you operate by:

  • Providing content that speaks to your prospects' needs
  • Showing transparency and honesty to gain trust and confidence in your operations
  • Using correct terminology or keywords that show that you're in tune with the industry
  • Offering case studies that demonstrate your expertise
  • Allowing access to technical documentation or requirements to give customers additional details if needed

Hundreds of missed sales opportunities…every day

At trade shows everywhere, in every industry, this same scenario plays out. Whether your prospects interact with your sales team at trade shows, or if they are introverts that snatch a business card or collateral while you’re not looking, people are increasingly opting to do their own research online.

Even at a trade show, where information is available everywhere, prospects opt to wait and collect information on their own time. Your website is the salesman they will encounter when that research occurs. This salesman never sleeps and always available. This salesman interacts with more prospects in a day than any other sales rep talks to in a month or more. Would you rather this salesman be helpful, knowledgeable, and easy to interact with, or barely present, just handing out business cards and not able to answer any specific questions?

Hopefully, the prospect that our client spoke to at the trade show visited the website and learned more about their products. Hopefully he bookmarked the website or even downloaded some detailed information. If so, there’s a much greater likelihood that the prospect will eventually make the purchase from our client instead of one of their competitors.