If ROI is the name of your exhibiting game, the real product of your trade show is leads. If you ask almost any exhibitor why they attend trade shows, you’ll most likely hear the number one answer (or at least number two) is lead generation.
And yet, surveys show that 87% of show leads are not followed up effectively; the average exhibitor takes 26 days to vet show leads; and 76% of sales people view trade show leads as cold calls.
Mismanaging leads is the primary reason that some exhibitors don’t show a healthy ROI. It can also impact your brand negatively. Attendees expect service while they’re at the show and they often expect it after the show. If you’re dropping leads, here are some actions you can take to improve lead management next time.
DETERMINE WHAT A GOOD LEAD IS (AND ISN'T)
Business cards crammed in a fish bowl are not leads. Scanned badges with no personal engagement are not leads. Personal interaction, informational conversations, capturing attendees’ data, and getting the go-ahead for next steps qualifies as a lead. Before the show, ask your sales and dealers what information they need to be able to follow up with a lead. Be sure that information is integrated into your capture device and that your staff knows how to qualify leads.
QUALIFY ON THE FLOOR (NOT AFTER THE SHOW)
Once you’ve heard from sales about what qualifies a lead, go ahead and train your staff to do that during the event. This saves the sales team from having to sift through tons of unqualified leads, potentially stalling their contact with a qualified lead for days and weeks. Booth workers should be savvy about guiding conversations by asking the right questions, listening to the answers, and progressing the conversation. By the time staffers are finished conversing with an attendee, they should know what kind of lead it is.
DEVELOP A LEAD-RANKING AND SORTING TEMPLATE
Not all leads are created equal. They don’t all have the same needs, budget, timeline, or buying authority. For this reason, determine a ranking process to identify the types of leads you gather. Using three or four different criteria, simply sort the leads into their category, which saves time later and helps the sales team out with some additional information.
Like it or not, you’re booth and brand and staffers are forgettable unless you do something to make attendees remember them. Attendees are visiting dozens of booths each day, and what’s to make them remember you? The personal touch, that’s what. Follow-up quickly to keep your company’s name on the tip of those attendees’ tongues. By the end of the day, send every visitor an email or text thanking them for stopping by, telling them it was nice meeting them, encouraging them to reach out if they have other needs, remind them you’ll be in touch soon. And then, BE IN TOUCH SOON.
MANAGE LEADS WITH A CRM
Long-gone are the spreadsheets and Rolodex filing systems for managing customers and prospects. Smart businesses now use CRM (customer relationship management) software to keep a database of their VIPs. CRM software allows you to establish and track sales goals, follow prospects throughout the sales cycle, run all kinds of averages calculations related to sales, manage email marketing campaigns, and more. Some of the industry CRM leaders are Salesforce, Zoho, and Insightly. While they each have their own specialties and features, they are all solid choices for implementing a CRM solution.
FOLLOW-UP AND FOLLOW-THROUGH
“The fortune is in the follow-up,” they say. And it’s true. Most leads need more than one follow-up or point of contact before they buy. Make at least three attempts to contact each prospect. Send out a weekly email initially. Or put them on a regular schedule of contact (weekly, monthly, etc.). Send them some downloadable material – a whitepaper or case study or blog post – so you can track how they are engaging with your website. Keep touching base with them regularly.
COMB BACK THROUGH OLDER LEADS
Older leads that have “gone dark” but haven’t given you a firm “no” are still possibilities for you to do business with. Don’t write them off as dead leads. Revisit them periodically – at least yearly – to see if their needs have changed. You can even use an upcoming trade show as an excuse to reach out – “Hey, just wondering if I’ll see you at this year’s event? It was great to visit with you last year.” Or some such.
These best practices will help you qualify and land better leads, which will help your customers and guarantee you a better ROI from exhibiting season.
This article was inspired by "6 Steps To Mastering Lead Management" by Danny Pace, and first appeared at www.skyline-etips.com/