trade show leads

Turn Trade Show Leads Into Gold

Many companies use tradeshows to generate customer and distributor leads. However, more than 95% of companies exhibiting are missing a huge opportunity to supercharge their leads.

Tradeshows can be expensive. By the time you add up the costs for the booth space, the booth display itself, transportation, having employees out of commission during the show, food and so on, it can be thousands of dollars to display at a tradeshow.

So, wouldn’t it be nice if there was one simple thing that you could do that would not only separate you from virtually every other exhibitor there, but would also go a long way to warming up your lead?

Here it is…follow-up with your tradeshow leads within 24 hours.

A few years ago, I did some “backyard” research around how companies at tradeshows were using their CRM systems (or weren’t as the case turned out). I went to some computer tradeshows and some industrial tradeshows and monitored how quickly companies followed up on the leads they were given at the show.

Here’s what I found:

  • Over half the companies didn’t follow-up at all.
  • Less than 10% followed up within the first week.
  • No company followed up within 4 days.

Granted it wasn’t very scientific, but I’ve affirmed the findings anecdotally since and have heard others reproducing my results. And here’s the more relevant question: “How long are YOU taking to follow-up on tradeshow leads?”

The point is: Companies work hard and spend a lot of money to get tradeshow leads only to waste a lot of the potential with poor follow-up.

What I recommend to my customers is to put in place a follow-up mechanism with their CRM system so that any lead they get will receive a personalized acknowledgement within 24 hours and preferably before they get back to their office!

Don’t wait to hand off an electronic list or a stack of business cards to an admin person after everyone gets back from the tradeshow. Quickly getting your leads into your CRM system also helps prevent leads from “falling through the cracks”.

Imagine being the tradeshow visitor and the only company to follow-up with you within 24 hours is YOURS! Better yet, what do you think your customer will think of you if by the time they get back to their office, there’s a personalized Email or fax thanking them for dropping by and letting them know that the information they requested is coming!

Now imagine being the salesperson who does the follow-up call to this lead days after they’ve received the follow-up communication. That salesperson is going to have a lead who remembers you because you were the only one to follow-up on their visit.

I coach my customers to prepare their CRM system for lead follow-up before the tradeshow. That means, get ready to code the tradeshow leads (e.g. source, priority) and prepare a follow-up Email or fax template.

At the show be set-up to either enter the leads during the day (maybe get a hired Temp to do that so you’re not losing face time at the show) or have someone do it at the end of the day in batch. The idea here is to get a follow-up “thanks for visiting” message to your lead as quickly as possible and well ahead of any other exhibitor.

Many tradeshows today now provide all the names electronically…visitors get a card with a magnetic strip that they can swipe at booths. Then at the end of the day, the exhibitors get the list. Two major problems with relying on this are:

  1. If you count on getting the electronic file at the end of the show, you’re more likely to not probe your vistiors for valuable information that should be put into your CRM system…the back of the card notes.
  2. You’re not going to be timely enough in getting back to your visitors.

You can easily supercharge the leads you get from your tradeshow booth and significantly increase your ROI by using your CRM system to quickly follow-up with those leads.

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