Making the Most of Trade Show Leads

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The show is over and it’s time to count the leads. We all know that a tall stack of trade show leads can feel like a sugar high. For many, that tall stack is proof that your trade show investment was well worth it, and if leads are the measure, then you’ll aim to collect as many as possible. However, the true ROI measure is new business, so more important than the number of leads is identifying the quality of leads in the stack.

Of course, your leads will need to be sorted, preferably into different groups ranging from “ready to sign a deal” to “will never sign a deal,” or from hot to not. Once sorted, they can bring your initial focus to the low hanging fruit. It’s the other groups that will require your team to be a bit more strategic.

You can expect your competitors to be chasing the same leads. After all, the prospect visited the show to look at all their options, so a smart marketing approach as a follow-up will give you an advantage. Your immediate action should be to contact your prospects with a simple thank-you note expressing your appreciation for taking the time to visit your booth and meet with your team. While this is a good first step, you should have a specific follow-up process beyond the thank-you note.

When you sort your leads from hot to not, also consider where each prospect fits into your sales process or funnel. It’s important to note if they are a current or past customer; if they aren’t or haven’t been a customer, sort by whether they are a current prospect in your sales process or a completely new contact. Your follow-up strategy will vary depending on the prospect type. Regardless, follow-ups should be personalized; be sure to avoid generic form letters or mass emails. Let each prospect know that you appreciate the time that they spent with you and your team.

Here are some additional suggestions based on the type of prospect you’ve identified:

Current customer: If they are a current customer, you have a clear advantage over your competitors because a customer should have a good working relationship with your company. In your follow-up, you want to make sure they know and feel like you have really listened to their needs. It’s too easy to make assumptions and miss this part.

Past customer: If they are a past customer, determining why they stopped doing business with you is important. If they left due to disappointment, this may be your chance to re-establish a working relationship. After all, their stop at your booth indicates that there is a least some interest in re-engaging on their end. As with current customers, the most important part of the follow-up is making sure they feel heard and that you understand their needs. Beyond that, if you can identify any past issues that may have impacted their decision to stop working with you and directly address those with demonstrable solutions, this will help strengthen your relationship. Keep in mind that a prospect that is a past customer is a current customer of your competitor, so to win this business, you will need to be on your “A game.”

To read this entire article, which appeared in the February 2023 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.


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