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How to “Work” Trade Shows to Find Companies to Buy

Often the more “creative” you are to find companies to purchase the quicker you’ll find the “right” deal. “Working” trade shows offers an extraordinary opportunity to find and

quickly qualify acquisition opportunities. To take maximum advantage of these “corporate shopping malls”, you need to use proven techniques to make this methodology worthwhile.

As a business buyer you want to use the most creative means possible to position yourself to get the first shot at a viable business that can be purchased, preferably a purchase opportunity where you have no other purchase competition. Herein lies the most noteworthy justification for working trades shows within industries you seek acquisitions.

9 Reasons Trade Shows are “Fertile Ground” for Business Buyers

Any proactive business buyer will tell you that finding viable companies that can be purchased for reasonable terms is a “numbers game”. Thousands of company candidates, that lead to hundreds of contacts, that lead to tens of acquisition conversations, that hopefully lead to one company acquisition. Trades shows offer an unparalleled opportunity to streamline the business purchase qualification process because trade shows are:

  1. Industry Focused: Only attend shows in industries you prefer
  2. Geographically Biased: Regional, National or International, take your pick!
  3. Time Efficient: You can visit with hundreds of companies in one trade show day
  4. Cost Efficient: For the cost of a plane ticket and a short hotel stay, you can qualify thousands of companies and many related trade associations.
  5. Personal: There is no better place to get face to face with a company CEO, who can say an immediate “yes” to a purchase inquiry, than a trade show
  6. Interactive: You can see, touch, hear, taste, smell company product and service offerings first hand – watch them demonstrated by experts
  7. Sales Personnel Intensive: Sales personnel talk and talk … not only will they keep Answering ALL your questions about the company, but they give you insights into how best to approach key management and whether they are viable acquisition candidates
  8. Lead “Rich”: After “bonding” with booth personnel in a matter of minutes they will pass on other company acquisition candidate leads and refer you to specific people industry trend insightful: There is no better place to define the current status of a targeted industry. New products/ services and countless conversations tell all!
  9. Relationship Starters: Since you meet so many people face-to-face, you are able to start memorable dialogues, long term relationships, with key business decision makers. If reinforced with timely follow up after the show, these relationships can lead to eventual merger or acquisition discussions

When you are pursuing companies to purchase, you never know where your next deal will come from. Introducing yourself to hundreds of people, passing out business cards and company introduction booklets to trade show booth participants, can and will be passed onto other people not in attendance at the show. Your exposure to others can be exponential.

An excellent technique to guarantee your expressed interest in purchasing specific types of companies is proliferated among others NOT in attendance, is to offer a reasonable financial incentive, or “$ referral fee” to sales personnel working the booths. If they refer you to a company you eventually purchase, offer to cut them a check at purchase closing or to donate the referral money to their favorite charity.

Remember, sales personnel typically have hundreds of customers, probably also within the same industry you are interested in. They personally know many business owners who might be interested in selling. This referral technique can get you in front of many business owners in a very short period of time!

Don’t Forget the Other Trade Show Attendees!

If you attend a trade show with the objective of also “working” the attendees for leads on company acquisitions you’ll be amazed at who you meet and where those conversations eventually lead you to.

Be keenly aware of conversation dialogs between other show attendees and booth workers that are already in progress within the show booth. You can quickly determine who the booth visitor is and from what company they represent…name tags are priceless! If you hear something you like, or may be to your benefit, introduce yourself to the person upon their booth departure. This technique can generate many referral opportunities for you.

Other opportunities to interact with trade show attendees are conference seminars, luncheons and talks, and best of all, at the show snack bars. Be observant, read name tags, listen to and start conversations. Don’t be bashful – introduce yourself, give them your business card and company brochure. These conversations are typically amazing because people in attendance at these shows see you as a “fellow show warrior” and often embrace an opportunity to share show and industry perceptions, unique experiences at specific booths, or better yet, suggest individuals you should meet at a specific company, at a specific booth … and they will encourage you to use their name when you introduce yourself!

Like in most selling situations, any business purchase lead you get from a trade show needs to be followed up in rapid fashion. Time is your enemy here. Be sure to re-contact your most viable leads within five days after the show.

Finding a viable company, that can be purchased, sometimes takes being at the right place at the right time. Working trade shows effectively will give you countless opportunities to be at that right place with the right person. Make this technique one of your primary methods to find quality company acquisitions.

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