Direct Sales Tips: 3 Must Haves for Successful Events

As a direct sales consultant, I was party to more than my share of horrible events.

You know the kind: five consultants standing around in a mostly empty booth, while the crowds of passersby pass you by.

You look on, longingly hoping that someone, anyone, will enter the booth to talk to you.
But people keep walking by, afraid you’ll all descend like vultures.

Yeah. I’ve been there. Thousands of people, no leads to speak of.

Then I had the opportunity to set up my own booth at a 2-day event, instead of “buying in” to someone else’s.

I had complete control over how things were “supposed” to go (more on that in a minute).

I learned there were three critical factors to a successful event booth:

1. Traffic
2. Leads
3. Buzz

If you do it right, it’s like a circle. Traffic generates leads, which creates buzz, which stimulates traffic.

But you can’t get those three things to work if you haven’t done your homework BEFORE the event. Here are the three MUST HAVES for any successful expo-type vendor event.

1. Know the desired outcome. What is it you’re looking for from this event? More bookings? More recruits? More sales? A combination of the three? Be very clear on what it is you want from the leads that enter your booth.

2. Know the special offer. The best events I’ve ever had included some kind of incentive for creating the desired outcome AT the event. A special incentive for booking your party at the expo, for example.

3. An eye-catching display and sticky collateral. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be vertical. Something tall and easy to spot across a crowded expo center, or takeaways that have your visitors advertising for you, are both effective means of generating buzz once people have made it to your booth.

There’s one more thing you need to plan for before the event – time to follow up with leads. If you’re too busy to follow up with contacts you’ve made at the event, don’t bother going. It’s the equivalent of flushing your money down the toilet. Before the big day, block out time in your calendar AFTER the big event to be sure you can reach out to as many of your prospects as possible. If you’ve made a plan for the three must-haves, you’ll need that time after the event to connect and close your leads.

Done properly, these three items are the biggest determining factors of your event success. If you handle yourself well and stick to the plan, you’ll likely come out with more leads than you can handle.

If you opt to do things the old-school way (as did some of the consultants that joined me in my booth), you’ll drive people away.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say. I set up my booth, told the other consultants how we we’re going to handle the event, and left to speak on the main stage at the event. When I returned, two of the consultants were out in the aisles, passing out business cards and begging for bookings.

These two ladies were not on my team, but were part of my leader’s team. They had paid to share the booth with us, so I wanted them to be successful. I politely explained to them that they needed to be in the booth, following the outline we had created to make the event successful for everyone.

“But that’s too distracting. We aren’t talking to as many people that way. Out in the aisle, we’re talking to eveyone that comes by.”

“My point exactly.” I said, as I motioned for my team mate to join us in the aisle.

She was finishing up scheduling a booking on her calendar and I asked her to report out her results.

“I’ve booked a show and scheduled one recruiting appointment, but I’ve only talked to about 15 people since you left.”

I then turned my attention to the ladies in the aisle.

“We’ve passed out about 50 business cards. I’ve got one lady that said she’d come back later to talk about booking a party. She’s a friend of mine from work.”

She did book that party. But at the end of the evening, when we were sorting out the leads, those two women had decidedly fewer leads than my team. They also had fewer booked appointments, and fewer business cards in their hands.

They didn’t come back the next day. On their way out for the evening, they grumbled about how poorly the event fared for them, and how I must have somehow cheated to get nearly twice as many leads for my team.

Ladies! It’s about quality, not quantity. Those women were forcing themselves on anyone that stood still long enough to take a card, instead of getting people to be excited about what they offered, and sharing that excitement with everyone they came in contact with.

Who’s going to keep a business card? Not very many people. Who’s going to wear a sticker that says “I got lucky!” and then tell other people at the event where they can go to get a sticker of their own?

Now you see my point. My team was engaging people in a game and putting the sticker on these people so that we would know who’d already played the game. People were coming to our table to play the game, walking away with a sticker and doing the advertising for us about our booth. We didn’t have to go out into the aisle. They were coming to us.

But playing the game takes about 45 seconds per guest. That means you won’t talk to as many people. BUT the ones you DO talk to are engaged, excited about what you’re offering, and more likely to book, buy, or consider joining your team.

So I guess you could say we cheated. We used the power of the crowd on itself. We created a viral marketing campaign right there in the event. We created buzz, which drew traffic, which generated leads…

…And we had more leads than we could handle at the end of the night – and looked forward to even more on the next day.

© 2010 Lisa Robbin Young.


Please do not alter it and include the following information (with active links as appropriate):

Lisa Robbin Young is a certified direct sales marketing coach, teaching direct sellers to grow their business like a real business instead of an expensive hobby. Sign up for her free weekly ezine at


  1. heatheramyprice

    I love to do drawings where I collect names and numbers and if for whatever reason I'm talking to someone else when someone comes by and they can't afford the time to stay to speak with me, at least they've left their name and number and I can follow up with everyone. Great post!

    You've received the sunshine award! Come and pick it up and spread some sunshine!

  2. Pure Romance by Pam

    Can you share the 45 second game or tell us which of your products explain it? I love this post! Thank you!

Comments are closed.