For exhibit and event professionals  

Dilemma: How do I handle suits with big pockets?

June 4, 2012 By Editor

Salespeople at our exhibit are pocketing business cards. Not only does this make it impossible for me to track the number of leads we get, it’s unfair to the salespeople back at the office. Is there some way I can get them to swipe badges like they’re supposed to?

— Paige, Events Coordinator

Give them a reason to go home with empty pockets — and clean hands

Paige, since the number of qualified leads is one of the main things higher-ups use to judge participation at an event, it’s vital for you to have accurate figures.

Our readers offer suggestions for how you can secure this data:

  • Dangle a carrot.
  • Face the fact salespeople won’t play nice.
  • Use a big stick.

Dangle a carrot

While you might be frustrated that some salespeople have been acting like leads are their property, using a positive approach may produce the results you want — and keep peace in your booth.

A green meeting specialist describes how you can do this.

“If you can you track the number of badges each machine swipes, assign one to each salesperson and have a contest to see who can ‘swipe’ the greatest number. Reward the winner with an upgraded hotel room or airline ticket for the next show you’re attending.”

Linda Kazares, President of ConnectedIn Media Inc., explains how to expand your salespeople’s buy-in.

“Have a contest for the most swiped qualified leads and business cards turned in at the show — or the following Monday to give the salespeople a chance to put the leads into their database. Be careful to establish what ‘qualified’ means and choose an incentive that will get them excited about turning over leads. (Salespeople generally like cash, glitz or tech products.)

“Since salespeople often don’t trust the marketing department, be sure to turn the leads back over to them as soon as you can after the show. That will help further secure their cooperation in the future.”

Face the fact salespeople won’t play nice

On the other hand, the salespeople may weigh the value of your prize and decide the leads are worth more in the long run. If so, it’s time for you to establish a defined policy on the matter.

Karl Frazier, Events Marketing Manager at EVault, believes salespeople will be salespeople, and it’s up to you to institute a system that works for all of you.

“Have a pre-conference call to explain the rules. And ALWAYS have a marketing person in your booth as the watchdog since, despite your best efforts, some salespeople will ignore your requests.

“If one of them insists on taking a card or hot lead notes, take a picture of the information with your phone, or have the salesperson take the pic. That way, you’ll have a copy to load into your system.”

Use a big stick

Prizes and compromise are good alternatives, but if these don’t work, you may need to come down hard on the people in your booth.

An exhibit manager leaves no room for interpretation when it comes to handling leads.

“I tell everyone, every day at the end of the show, nobody walks out with leads under threat of a severe penalty, such as cancellation of a hotel room or flight home.”


  • To salespeople, every lead they develop has the potential to earn them thousands of dollars, so the possibility it may be given to another sales rep is a scary thought. Therefore, I think Paige needs to develop a system that clearly identifies who secured which leads and ensures they go to the salesperson who turned them in. Once the salespeople see they’ll get to profit from their efforts, the pocketing should become a non-issue.

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