Most exhibitors have replaced the old “business card fishbowls” with badge scanners and software. But far too many exhibitors are still merely collecting as many cold prospects as possible and handing them over to sales. That approach can make the follow-up sales efforts overwhelming. Using the following six lead management steps will ensure your lead generation efforts identify the quality leads.
Step 1: Define Good Leads Before the Show
Before each show, decide what constitutes a qualified trade show lead. These qualities might remain the same throughout your sales year, or they may change depending on the shows you attend and the products or service lines you feature. Once these definitions are established, set up your questions and database to effectively identify and capture the information.
Step 2: Qualify on the Floor
In-booth qualification criteria typically needs to be broad. Initial discussions should be very welcoming; asking too many questions about budget or purchase timing can be off-putting to attendees who just want to learn about your company. Since your exhibit staff will be meeting and greeting many attendees, they won’t always have time to get into in-depth discussions with everyone who enters the booth. Nevertheless, train your staff to identify and record the attendee’s reason for attending. Assign a dedicated staff person to sort the leads, separating the buyers from the browsers. You likely won’t need to send your sales team leads for students, spouses, or other show attendees who aren’t part of your target demographic. Click here to read more about how to manage leads.
Step 3: Respond Immediately
Attendees will often quickly lose track of individual companies because of the many booths they visited at a show. For this reason, it’s important to follow-up quickly to stay top-of-mind. At the end of the day or show, send each visitor an automatic email or text message thanking them for visiting the booth, and mention that you will be in touch after the event. Doing so can ensure that warm prospects don’t go cold. It can also ensure that your competitors don’t reach hot prospects before you do!
Step 4: Push Prospects Into a CRM
While you can certainly manage all your prospects in a giant spreadsheet, most businesses are far better off managing their leads with customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Salesforce and Zoho are industry CRM leaders, while Insightly and a few others are often highly touted by small business owners for their ease of use. CRM software can let you set and measure sales goals, track prospects throughout the sales cycle, calculate average lifetime sales, conduct email marketing campaigns and so much more. If you haven’t implemented a CRM solution, this is the year to start!
Step 5: Nurture Leads via Phone and Email
Make at least three attempts to contact each prospect, giving priority and extra effort to those you pre-qualified at the show. Some exhibitors make a point of sending out a weekly email for the first three weeks. Others swear by the “1 week, 3 months, 6 months” rule. Start by reminding them of who you are and where you met. Using dedicated landing pages related to your event, send them a relevant and timely blog post to read, offer them a downloadable whitepaper or case study, or send them to an offer related to the event. Your CRM software will typically show how individuals on the list are (or aren’t) engaging with your website content – thereby giving your sales staff further insights on which prospects warrant another follow-up call.
Step 6: Don’t Forget About Old Leads
A percentage of even highly qualified leads will eventually go “dark”. While you don’t want to continue inundating these leads with calls and emails, you shouldn’t consider them dead leads either. Purchase decisions often get shelved for another budget year. When your exhibit schedule comes full circle, it can be a good idea to revisit qualified leads from the previous year’s show.
Use their attendance at last year’s show as a reason to reach out to them, to see if they plan to attend again this year.
By following the above lead management best practices, you can ensure that more of your trade show prospects are qualified, contacted, and closed!