Get FREE Trade Show Marketing Tips in Your Inbox! Click Here

The Sprint and The Marathon of Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

Sprint and Marathon of Trade Show Lead Follow UpCongratulations!  You’ve just finished your latest trade show and now have a big pile of leads.  But there’s no time to rest – you still have two more races to win:

  1. The sprint to get your leads fulfilled in the minutes, hours, and days after the show, and
  2. The marathon to keep following up your leads for the weeks, months, and even years after the show.

Let’s look what you need to do to win both the sprint and the marathon.

1.  The Sprint of Trade Show Lead Fulfillment

To win the sprint, quickly send out your fulfillment packets, and get the lead information into the hands of the right sales person.  Here’s how:

Get Lead Fulfillment Packets Out Fast (But Not Too Fast)

You can speed up the delivery of your lead fulfillment packets in these 6 ways:

  1. Have your fulfillment packet planned and ready before the show starts.  That includes a written cover letter, and enough printed brochures (especially for new products launched at the show), envelopes and postage on hand for the anticipated lead count.
  2. Pre-assign one or more people to transfer the lead information quickly into a computerized contact management system.  How you do this depends on how you record leads at the show.  If you just gather business cards, you need to either type or scan them into your database.  Same thing if you use lead cards, although you should then have more qualifying data that takes more time to type.
  3. Sprint of trade show lead fulfillmentIf you use an electronic lead retrieval from the show, after the show you should get a data file that you can import into your CRM database to speed up data entry.
  4. Hire a temp if it’s just you and you won’t have time to type all the leads yourself – it’s so worth it!
  5. If you are using lead cards or gathering business cards (most exhibitors don’t data-enter their leads at the show), bring pre-addressed overnight packages (one for each show day) and send back the day’s leads to the person who will type them in.
  6. Really want to go faster?  Email your fulfillment letter right from your trade show display, and attach pdf files of the product literature with it.  But that may be too fast, as your prospect is likely letting emails pile up while at the show, and will be going back to a big pile of snail mail right after the show.  You may be better off timing your fulfillment packet to arrive about half a week after the show has ended.  But you can still send thank you emails right from the show, to demonstrate your speed of service.

Motivate Your Field Sales With Complete Leads

However, fast lead fulfillment will be wasted if you just toss the leads over the transom.  You’re not just providing a name and address; you’re sharing a story.  Give the details that help sales people to be motivated and equipped to follow up.

Let your sales people know which show you took the lead at, when and where the show was, and what your company was showing.  Also provide the lead quality level, which products they showed interest in, and how interested they were.  Include any comments attendees made, about their pains, their needs, their preferences, and their buying plans.  Let your sales people know what promises the booth staffer made (literature to send, discounts offered, a meeting request) – and if you’ve already fulfilled the promises, or if it’s up to the sales person.

Why the extra effort?  To show respect to the trade show lead – you’ll honor your promises to them, and they won’t have to repeat themselves again.  Plus, after meeting around 20 other exhibitors at the show, they may not even remember what they said to you.  Most of all, the complete story will entice your field sales to make repeated follow up calls – much more than just a name and phone number will.

2.  The Marathon of Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

Marathon of trade show lead follow upNow that your prospect has received their fulfillment packets, and the sales people have the leads, it’s time to pace yourself for the ensuing marathon.

Keep In Touch With Prospects…And Their Assigned Sales People

Lead follow-up depends on organization and a good team.  Try these 3 ideas:

  1. Schedule sales follow up based on lead quality. At the show, rank your leads according to A/B/C quality, and then after the show you can stagger your personal follow up by the level of lead quality.  Your sales people should first follow up on “A” leads right after the show, and keep trying to reach them until they’ve been able to set a date for a follow-up meeting, presentation, or price quote.  When the initial blitz of “A” leads is done, then follow up on “B” leads, although not as frequently.  And when you’ve called all the “B” leads and set them in motion, then it’s time to call on the “C” leads.
  2. But not all follow up happens with a sales person on the phone.  Integrate your trade show leads into your ongoing marketing communications campaigns, be it newsletters, seminars, open houses, direct mail drops, and more.  Better yet, add them to a drip campaign that sends customized messages based on what you learned about them at the show, such as their industry, company size, or specific needs.
  3. Schedule dates on your calendar to regularly check in with field sales on the progress of leads.  Have they been developing deeper relationships with the prospects you met at the show?  Ask them which leads they had meetings with, sent proposals and price quotes, or made sales to.  And if they bought, what did they buy, and how much did they spend?  With complete data like this, you can then calculate your trade show ROI (Return on Investment).  Want those meetings to mean more?  Invite the highest-level person you can to attend these meetings, someone who understands the potential value of trade shows – if the leads are followed up.  If you are really fortunate, you’ll have a sales manager who is tracking this every day, ensuring that the sales force is in regular personal contact with your trade show leads.

Trade show lead follow-up is more difficult than preparing for a trade show, because there is no deadline like the show date to keep everyone focused.  But if you approach follow-up with the mindset that it’s both a short and long-distance race, you’ll have a better chance of winning more business from your trade show leads.

How have you sped up your lead fulfillment, and paced yourself for ongoing lead follow-up?  Let us know in the comments box below.

What's Working In Exhibiting White PaperGood lead follow-up gets you more from your trade show marketing investment.  Learn even more ways to boost your results in the 32-page White Paper, What’s Working In Exhibiting.  Click here to get your free copy now.

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

5 responses to “The Sprint and The Marathon of Trade Show Lead Follow-Up

  1. Thanks for the great post Mike! I wish we could somehow drill this advice into people’s heads. I love #3 in your marathon advice. You really do need to get that “touchy feely” feedback from sales to know what your ROI is. Maybe they cannot assign a $ value just yet but helping sales develop deeper relationships with both current and potential customers definitely has a value. But you have to have this conversation to get the info. I love that you say it’s not a one time conversation between sales and marketing but an ongoing dialog.

    1. Traci,

      As you said in your last blog post, you get booth visitors in different phases of the buying cycle. So you’re going to get leads that take different lengths of time to convert into sales. That’s why you have to have an ongoing dialog, to track the sales conversion over time. I just talked to a sales guy who is doing exactly point #1 on follow up — he has already run to ground all his A leads, and now is circling back to his B and C leads, because they may now be ready.

  2. Hi Mike,

    I really liked this blog post. Would you be interested in writing a similar column for our magazine? Please let me know!

    1. Thanks, Amanda, for asking to share my writing with your readers. I look forward to seeing it in your magazine in January as we discussed. Your magazine punches above its weight for a state-level publication, so it’s an honor to be included.

  3. Great Article…Process is where most companies drop the ball. The find great whys to engage or followup with all leads within two weeks with general emails and call. Getting specific with the actual interested parties and why they stopped is the data needed for sales which is all timing after the sprint.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Up To Date