Trade shows are one of the most visible, highly attended, and easy-to-justify forms of marketing for B2B sales organizations. After all, if a trade show is popular in your industry, with lots of foot traffic, it seems logical that the show will create a windfall of sales leads.
Unfortunately, many companies fail to capitalize on the potential of trade shows. They end up with too many low-quality sales leads, too many prospects that weren’t sincerely interested in buying, and too little connection between the lead generation activities conducted at the trade show and the regular sales lead management process.
Here are a few ideas for how sales teams can do a better job of trade show follow-up:
Know your prospect: Before the trade show begins, it’s important to plan ahead and know which prospects you want to reach. If not specific companies by name, make sure you have a clear idea of the ideal company profile of the types of prospects that you most want to reach the trade show. Make a list of companies that you hope to connect with during the show, and track the prospects throughout the show to gauge your progress.
Develop a trade show sales lead database: Make sure to capture all relevant information from prospects contacted during the trade show. Include any information and lead qualification categories that would correspond with your regular sales process, but also make sure to note any information that is specific to the trade show, such as the prospect’s behavior at the show, whether they approached you, whether they took any sales literature from the booth, whether they asked any questions or asked to try a free demo or special offer, etc. The trade show environment is a unique chance to interact with prospects in real life, and these interactions can give you some valuable insights that need to be recorded and stored for later use during the lead management process.
Follow up quickly: Trade shows are intense, high-energy events where prospects might talk with 6 or 7 different vendors and solution providers – and your company might soon fade from their memory unless you follow up quickly and effectively after the show. Set a deadline to contact all trade show sales leads within 2 business days after the show, send any requested information (brochures, white papers, webinar demos) within 48 hours of the phone contact, and then carry out an additional follow-up call within 5-7 business days of fulfilling the information request.
Qualify the sales leads: Not everyone who comes to your trade show booth is going to be eager to speak with you a few days later; business needs can change quickly, and the person who seemed so interested at the trade show might have met someone better suited to their needs just a few minutes after they spoke with you. Keep this in mind while qualifying trade show sales leads. A list of sales leads which all seemed “highly qualified” during the rush of conversations at the show might actually end up providing just a few viable prospects.
Make a personal follow-up: Trade shows are different from other lead generation activities because there is a real-life contact between the prospect and a representative of your company. If possible, have the same person who met with the prospect at the trade show give them a follow-up call, just to re-connect, even if it’s in addition to the regular sales process. Making a personal connection could be helpful in deepening your company’s relationship with the prospect, and in reminding them of why they wanted to hear from you in the first place.
Trade shows can be a highly efficient method of lead generation, but the sales lead obtained from trade shows require special management. Make sure to create a seamless process to manage and nurture the sales leads all the way from the trade show floor to your sales funnel.