Attracting Consulting Engineers to Your Trade Show Booth

They are the ultimate referral client: recommending your equipment from the beginning of dozens of projects each year, and continuing to do so over a lifetime. A consulting engineer specs your equipment from the very start, and tells the general contractor or subcontractor to use your equipment on a project.  They’re doing the selling for you - introducing your product to the end client, positioning you as “everywhere” in your industry, and even shepherding your product through the approval process. (See notes at the bottom).

So how do you find these powerhouse prospects at a trade show, and how do you convince them to visit your trade show booth so they can start a relationship with your company?

Currently, trade show organizers are lumping businesses of the same “type” into “pods” and “areas” on the show floor, thinking that it makes it easier for show attendees to find what they want. In fact, this results in deadly commoditization: making it seem like everyone has pumps, all pumps are basically the same, and every pump company is basically the same. To be successful, you must do something that makes sure your booth stands out from the crowd, captures attention, and focuses it on the benefits of working with your company.

First, your booth must do something that grabs the prospect’s attention.  Because your competitors are all offering the a similar product, you must do something that focuses attention on your booth and differentiates your company from all the others vying for the engineer’s attention. Here is a great blog post offering few ideas that will help focus attention your booth. 

Second, you must offer a message that explains what makes your company different from all your competitors. Your prospect has to understand that you’re not just offering “a pump,” rather, he must understand that your company is his preferred choice for his unique needs, above and beyond any other company exhibiting at the show.

It’s very easy to assume that the reason consulting engineers would spec your equipment would relate to price, quality, or longevity of the product you’re offering. But that’s really only half the story.

Consulting engineers are looking for a broader set of factors. They need to know you’ll deliver your product when they need it, so their project stays on time. They need to know that it’s so easy to install the subcontractor will not make a mistake, and they need to know it’s so easy to use the end user won’t call them up complaining afterward. They need to know it’s more effective and efficient, so the end user will be excited about how much energy he saves.  

Third, your booth strategy must ensure you capture lead information for each consulting engineer that visits your booth.  Sometimes, the engineer will walk into the booth with some notes on a project he’s currently working on, and he’ll ask very specific questions about how your products fit his needs. In more cases, however, there won’t be an immediate need for what you’re selling.  

Collecting contact information allows you to put the engineer into your follow up system, so you can continue to follow up with useful industry information and case studies about how your company delivered a product that the end user loved. This is your opportunity to build a relationship, so the engineer only specs your products and your equipment in his plans.  

[Note: Vendors bemoan one unfortunately reality: General Contractors and Sub Contractors can and will substitute their preferred vendors for the consulting engineers recommendation. I have good news: the same strategy presented in this post will also capture the attention of contractors, and tell them why they should use your products and services. Not only will this process ensure the contractor follows the consulting engineers recommendation, it will also help you influence contractors to use your equipment when the consulting engineer specs something else.]

Mike Duseberg is a trade show marketing expert who is fascinated by effective and efficient methods of starting new sales conversations at trade shows. He can be contacted through his website at

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