So you've travelled a few hours to get to a trade show, having spent time planning meticulously for the event in advance. You've arrived in good time to set your stand up perfectly, and made a big effort to look your best. Everything is in place and you're all set for a great day.

Somewhere on the trade show floor will be the high-value customer you're looking for, and if you're lucky, there may even be a few of them. It's just a case of drawing people into your stand or booth and identifying the big leads you may be able to convert.

You'll spend most of the day manning the stand, conversing with trade show attendees and informing them about your products and services. Except, of course for the five-minute periods when you need to head to the bathroom. During these periods the stand is unmanned.

And what are the chances of the high-value customer walking past at this very same point? It's sod's law. There's nobody there to greet them, and get them engaged with your offering, so they simply breeze by and end up placing a massive order with one of your rivals.

This is your worst nightmare at a trade show, but the risk is there is you're the only person manning your stand. It's impossible for you to be out front all day, for every minute, and if there's nobody else around to help you may miss out on new sales.

The same applies if you're deep in conversation with somebody when the high-value customer comes along. Unless you have an enthusiastic assistant to draw them in and keep them talking - perhaps just until you are free to chat - they may end up going elsewhere.

If you can't afford to spare another employee helping out at the trade show, then it's worth bringing a family member or friend along to assist. Just somebody you can brief on the basics, who can cover for you on the few occasions you're occupied elsewhere.

The reality is that every minute you leave your stand or booth unoccupied, you're potentially losing money for the business. This means running it is a full-time job.