It is a fact that at least 80 percent of leads are not followed up on after a trade show. One of the biggest reasons is that lead collection information is generally left to a badge reader or a business card, and little information is captured after that.
Over the course of a three day show it’s easy to forget information about specific people and their needs, which leads to apathy for following up. You have a stack of business cards and you remember very little about specific conversations. The leads go into a database (maybe) and there is no future contact after that, except maybe a one-time generic email of information which is the only attempt to touch base after the show.
Here’s two tips for better follow-up and ROI:
Tip 1 – Checklist
Have a way to ask qualifying questions using a premade form on a clipboard or an electronic pad. I saw this done very effectively to gather unique information about each person. Yes, you can just scan a badge, but writing down unique elements of a conversation is critical.
Ask for their permission to take notes while talking to them; We’ve never met someone who refused to let us take notes. It’s also easier to ask specific questions that get quick results such as “do you make the buying decision?” If not, then who does? When people feel that you are going down a checklist of questions, they tend to accommodate you more.
Tip 2 – Pre-Show Training
Train your staff with a pre-show meeting. The questions and note taking keep all salespeople on the same page for accurate follow up. Keep these next thoughts in mind when selecting a customer and the questions:
1. Qualify the people – Look at the name badges and understand what the different colors mean. Know who you are looking out for and make sure that everyone is keeping their eye out for specific people, government agencies, companies, or groups.
2. Interview the person and ask qualifying questions – Have a good opening line such as “What are you looking for that has brought you to this show?” Get information from the person before you start explaining all your products and features.
3. Dig Deeper into their needs – This is where you can add notes and be very personal during follow-up later on.
4. Know their role in the company and network to get other names if necessary – You need to determine if they are the buyer, who makes the purchase decisions, and if you determine that they are not the person you need to talk to then they can be a great resource to get to that person.
5. Commitment – Get a follow-up commitment from the person to set up a meeting later with the proper contact. By doing this you are not going in cold during a follow-up.
Remember, it usually takes 5 to 7 contacts for a person to feel comfortable to buy from you so if you are just trying once or twice then your success rate will be very low.
Lastly, from a marketing perspective, make sure that you collect all leads and do not let the salespeople keep the original paperwork. Make this clear up front that all leads are turned in and put in a Marketing Database for follow-up!