Catch A Big Fish: Hire an Attendee Sales Manager

Attendees are the bread and butter of trade shows; they are the sustenance that keeps the show alive.  

If you are suffering from a lackluster turnout to one or more of your shows it’s always worth investigating what’s gone wrong.  

Sometimes the reasons are complex. And sometimes they are easily identifiable.

In many cases, it’s simply the result of failing to connect with the right people in a way that has an impact.

Simple Math: Hire An Attendee Sales Manager

The antidote to poor attendance is to hire an attendee sales manager who is dedicated to bringing in more attendees. Not just any attendees, the right attendees who match your exhibitor’s goals. More attendees equal more exhibitors.

Even the most fervent of math haters can get behind that math.

What’s really important is that a sales manager takes the time to vet your attendees which translates to better-qualified leads for your exhibitors. Lucrative leads equal a more successful trade show experience for everyone.

OK, enough with the math already.

The point is this: the sales manager will be able to focus more on the end goal instead of relying on your marketing team to do that as well (which frees them up to focus on general marketing and admission).   

It’s a much-needed reprieve that allows everyone to work to their fullest potential rather than just getting it done quickly because they have an overabundance of responsibilities.  

And marketing teams everywhere rejoice.


Not sure when you should hire a sales manager? It largely depends on when your event is and if your event occurs annually or bi-annually. Attendee tracking should always start within two months of your previous event.

If you don’t have the capacity to hire someone full time, consider making it a part-time position. As the event gets closer scale up to accommodate for the increased workload.

Even if you are on a time crunch it’s very important that you select a candidate who will get the job done right, which means you should look for the following qualities…

  • Good at communication
  • Analytical
  • Organized
  • Strategic
  • Works well under pressure
  • Enthusiastic
  • Reliable

Reeling in the Big Fish

We love all of our attendees but let’s be honest, we all hope to catch the attention of the biggest fish. You know the types, the people that have the power to influence others and the means to do so.

While many show coordinators have their sales manager sell to the generalized masses, it might be a more advantageous strategy to have them focus on the big fish and let your marketing team go after the general audience.

Have your dedicated sales manager do a little matchmaking by personally inviting key players to your show, by pointing out the advantages for them, like connecting with companies that share their vision or visiting certain exhibitors that would be of benefit to their company, etc.  

And it never hurts to throw out bigger lures, like hotel or travel incentives and free tickets to an exclusive VIP event. Don’t underestimate their desire to feel like they are appreciated and not taken for granted. Show them adoration and you will be rewarded.

Salesmanship doesn’t end when the show begins. Your manager should oversee the registration of attendees and provide face to face interaction. This makes your guests feel welcome and confident that their investment in your event is acknowledged and appreciated.

The Reward

One of the best ways to grow your trade show business is to grow your team. Hiring a sales manager to handle attendee sales might be the cure for ailing attendance numbers. They can help you stay on track and meet your attendance goals. Never underestimate the power that comes with the art of salesmanship.