Tradeshow Follow-up

Yes, the title of this post has the word “tradeshow”in it.  They still exist, and for many companies, they are still a tremendous source of sales leads.  As a matter of fact, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research reports that tradeshows continue to grow (albeit modestly) in attendance and exhibitor space. So why do so many marketers think tradeshows are a waste of time?  Because just like digital channels, the leads that get generated from the tradeshow floor rarely receive proper follow up.

I remember a few years ago, I attended a tradeshow for event and tradeshow planners.  The exhibitors consisted of companies that sell to the “tradeshow” industry:  exhibit houses, promotional gift providers, lead capture providers, travel and lodging consultants, etc.  If you were an event planner, you could get just about everything you needed at this show. Everything that is, except for one very important item:  Post Show Lead Follow-up.

That’s not to say that there weren’t companies offering what they called “post show lead follow-up”  There were.  However, for these exhibitors, “post show lead follow up” was defined simply as offering solutions for storing and segmenting prospect data captured on the show floor.  These exhibitors were offering tools for a process that most companies just don’t have. So even the tradeshow industry itself fails to focus on the need for a process for following up on tradeshow leads.   And to top it off, you can be certain that just like every other tradeshow in every other industry, 65-70% of those exhibitors’ leads never received proper sales follow up.  As a matter of fact, only 30% of the exhibiting companies from that show contacted us afterwards.

If you are spending money on tradeshows, and have no idea what happens to the leads you generate, then this 7-step process is a simple way to get you on the road to effective lead management. If you already have a lead management process, the perhaps these tips will help you improve upon what you already have.

  • Step #1:  If you don’t have this defined already, develop a profile (buyer persona) of the target prospect for the show.  This should include key criteria that you use to determine who you are trying to reach. This should be done before the show.

  • Step #2:  Use the profile and criteria as the basis to create a tradeshow lead capture database which will in turn be imported into your marketing database (if you have one) or CRM system. This will be used after the show for efficient follow up.

  • Step #3:  Call each prospect within 2 business days from the tradeshow’s end date.  This call should be done to “re-qualify” the lead.  Let’s face it, the “badge swipes” are just a list of prospects.  This first call is to determine which ones are true leads, which ones are are more long term prospects, and which ones are simply tire kickers.

  • Step #4:  Forward any requested information within 24 hours of completing Step #3. Your product, service and in-booth offer will determine the medium you use for delivering the content.

  • Step #5:  Distribute only “sales ready” leads to the sales force. Do this in real time.

  • Step #6:  Enter “not-yet-ready-for-sales” leads into the appropriate “lead nurture” program.  If they are not ready to speak with sales, keep them moving through the sales cycle via a well planned out lead nurture program.

  • Step #7:  About a week after you send a lead to sales, contact the prospect once more via phone to confirm sales has followed up. As much as we’d like to think that sales will follow up with good leads, it still doesn’t happen at the rate it should.  Don’t let a good prospect fall through the cracks.