Blog for Building Materials Companies

How to Succeed at IBS

  |  Posted in Builders, Trade Shows

How to Succeed at IBS

The Builders’ Show is less than a month away. For many companies, IBS represents a very large expenditure while for others it’s their best chance to grow their sales to homebuilders.

The exhibit has been designed and you have finalized your travel arrangements. Some of you will be crossing your fingers in the hopes that your investment pays off.

But you can do more than just hope. There are still many things you can do to get more results from this big investment.

Get More Traffic to Your Booth

It’s not too late to get more builders to stop by your booth. But to get them to show up, you have to do some work before the event.

Builders don’t come to the Show to walk up and down the aisles like they’re window shopping. They come with a purpose and a list of things they want to accomplish. You want to get on that list before they arrive at the Show.

So how do you do it?

You could try reaching them with paid advertising or mass mailings. If you take this approach, you need to give them a very compelling reason to stop by your booth. Don’t waste your money if all you’re going to do is ask them to come see you.

A better way is to take a more targeted approach. The more personalized you can make the invitation, the better your results will be.

You should have two contact lists: one for your existing customers and a separate one for prospective customers you would like to do business with.

Targeting Existing Customers

Existing customers are more likely to stop by your booth. They already have a relationship with you and they want to see what is new, get an answer to a question they have, meet with their rep or have your company’s vice president make them feel important.

I recommend using email to reach your current customers. The emails can come from the company but ideally, they’ll come from an individual. If they are coming from the company, have them come from your sales leader.

An even more effective strategy is to provide your sales reps with the suggested copy for the email and have them send emails to their current customers.

Targeting Prospective Customers

If you don’t already have a list of the prospective or new customers, ask each rep for the names of five builders who do not currently buy from you that they would like to have as a customer.

Develop a series of emails to send to these prospects (they can come from the sales leader or the individual sales rep). The message needs to give the builder a very compelling reason to stop by your booth if you expect to get results.

Keep in mind that these prospective customers are probably not coming to the show looking for a new supplier for the product you’re selling. Your message and your offer have to be strong enough that the builder will want to and doesn’t have to go out of his way to check out your booth.

Great Messaging Case Study: Huber

Not sure what makes a great message? Consider these two examples by Huber.

This won’t appeal to the largest builders, but it will appeal to thousands of other builders. Here’s what I like about it: it’s simple and easy to understand. $15,000 is enough money to get my attention. And the builder sees $15,000 in value, but the actual cost to Huber is less.

To enter the sweepstakes, the builder has to stop by the booth and register. Once they’re there, a Huber sales rep can start a discussion with a new builder and get that builder’s contact information for future sales efforts.

The second example is an awards program.

Awards programs can be very effective because everyone likes to win an award and other people like to know who won the award. But there are now so many award programs that it is hard to make yours stand out and get noticed.

So, how did Huber stand out? They didn’t just create a new award; they created a new award category.

Social media is a powerful communication tool and many builders are learning how to use it effectively. Huber created an awards program that did something no other award program did: recognize the builders who are the best at social media.

In addition to this brilliant idea, Huber did a couple of other smart things.

First, they made the award show into an event that will take place at their booth. Then, they made the event feel more important by requiring builders to register for it before they could get a ticket to get in. And yes, they now have every attendee’s contact information for future sales efforts.

They also got Matt Risinger, one of the original builder social media rock stars, to be their master of ceremonies.

Both of these programs are going to draw a lot of traffic to the Huber exhibit. And all that traffic will result in more sales.

It might be too late for you to create programs like these, but it’s not too late for you to reach out to customers and give them a good reason to show up at your booth.

Turning Those Booth Visitors Into Customers

You invested a lot of money just to have a booth at IBS. The main purpose of this investment is to get a customer or potential customer to walk into your booth.

This is one of the biggest reasons I am not a big fan of trade shows. Even when companies can get a customer to stop by and check them out, many of them do a poor job with those customers once they’re in the booth. It’s like they’re a football team that put a lot of money and effort into getting to the championship game but then decides to stop playing as soon as they get to the five-yard line for the winning goal.

I want to see you and your company get better results at the Builders’ Show. So, I asked Carlos Quintero of Sales Effectiveness, Inc. for his advice on how companies can do a better job in the booth. When it comes to improving the sales performance of building material companies, I don’t know anyone better than Carlos.

Some of his advice might seem to be very basic, but I see salespeople make every one of these mistakes at IBS.

Here’s the advice he shared.

Salesperson Builder Show Do’s and Don’ts

by Carlos Quintero

Are you ready for the IBS Show in Vegas? Perhaps it’s your first show or you are a seasoned attendee. While you may help in the booth set up and organization, the moment of truth, as one would say, is when an existing customer or prospect visits you directly. Over the years we have seen superior salespeople who truly help their companies achieve their trade show goals. We have also seen many who do not provide value and in fact actually hurt their organization’s image and reputation.

As you get ready for the IBS Show in Vegas, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind and follow:


Prior to:

· Understand your organization’s specific goals and purpose for the exhibit.

· Research who is coming that you would like to connect with. Send an email 2-3 weeks ahead of time inviting them to connect with you at the show, giving them specifics on where your booth is, when you will be there or set up a specific time to meet.

During the Show:

· Remember the cardinal rule of being a superior salesperson: the more the customer talks, the more they will likely want to buy, now or in the future.

· You should see yourself as first a subject matter expert on your company’s products and services. Reconsider attending if you do not have in-depth knowledge about your solutions.

· Recognize that your primary task is to learn and to help the customer/prospect share what issues they may be having that you or your company might be able to address.

· Here are 10 important Do’s when a customer or prospect arrives:

1. Smile, have direct eye contact and greet warmly using your name

2. Acknowledge who they are and specifically repeat their name and the company they are with. Ideally, use a business card scanner to capture information.

3. Determine what their goals for the show are (learn, explore ideas, solve a specific problem)

4. Identify why they stopped at your booth

5. Qualify and determine if a challenge exists

6. Explore interest in digging deeper

7. If appropriate, recommend idea(s) that may have relevance or potential value

8. Capture info electronically and/or get their business card

9. Summarize interest areas into your lead capture system or info-gathering tool

10. Set up future contact timing and thank the customer

Some other Do’s

· ALWAYS wear your name badge.

· Have sufficient business cards to provide to customers who request one or to prospects you deem valuable.

· You are an extension of your company, so look the part in how you dress and how you carry yourself.

· Do not delay in following up AFTER the show. It demonstrates professionalism and commitment. This alone will differentiate you.


· Wait until opening day or the day before to think critically about what you want to achieve when speaking with customers or prospects.

· Pitch, Pitch, Pitch – to people who come to your booth. Very few are ready to buy when they come to your booth. The more you ask the more you will learn.

· Be constantly looking at your cell phone. I strongly suggest that you keep your phone in your pocket and only take it out if someone is calling or texting you. If you need to speak to someone, do it away from the booth.

Working Trade shows can be grueling work. It can be very rewarding if you are planful and you are proactive about who you seek to connect with. The work done both before and after a show can make a substantive difference in your ability to build new opportunities.

Carlos Quintero will be at the IBS Show in Vegas and would enjoy connecting with you. He can be reached at 770-842-8744 or via email

I will also be at IBS, click here to let me know if you’d like me to stop your booth. And if you see me walking the aisles, please say hello.

Look for more IBS recommendations, my review of the show and maybe your exhibit in future emails.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.