You’ve just arrived home from a week of trade show exhibiting. You are tired, your head and feet still ache, and you are behind on all of your normal tasks. Hang on! It is not yet time to soak your feet or catch up with your team. Collecting leads at the show is only one piece of the prospecting puzzle. You can’t take a rest until your plan for following up with trade show leads is put into motion.
A whopping 98% of exhibitors collect leads at trade shows – but committing resources to gather the leads is simply wasteful if the processes aren’t in place to effectively qualify, contact, nurture, and close prospects. The misconception is that following up on trade show leads has to start immediately after the show ends, but that is wrong. The best prospect-focused sales teams start following opportunities before the show even starts. Getting good-fit leads in the hands of sales reps requires careful planning and execution. Let’s talk about the plan.
- Define. Prior to the show, sit with sales management and create a clear definition of a qualified trade show lead. Discuss what questions should be included in your lead collection strategy to identify the hot prospects, and which will qualify a lead as sales-ready. Once you’ve got your definitions in place, lead collection needs to be designed to gather the details that will enable sales to categorize the show leads efficiently and begin show follow up quickly.
- Collect. Armed with your qualifying question, your well-trained booth staff will be able to devote the most attention to the attendees that most closely align with the sales team’s ideal prospect. Understanding who you are looking to connect with will aid the team in every interaction.
- Listen. Make sure that the process of collecting lead data includes gathering the most critical details: what is the prospect seeking? Your booth staff may have come to the show educated with the latest Real Time Trigger data from their target accounts – but talking with contacts from those organizations may provide additional insight that will help your sales reps to nudge the prospect further down the pipeline with a targeted solution. Your goal should always be to help your prospect with their current needs. So listen carefully, ask good questions, and take good notes.
- Append and clean. Trade show lead data is notoriously incomplete. Even with your best efforts to collect data, people still omit important details (they leave out their phone number or email address, or title). To ensure that all of your leads are put into the correct queues for follow up, the data has to be cleaned and appended with data from your sales intelligence solution. Having access to the technology to be able to paste in a list of leads and have each record automatically completed and cleaned up will save your sales team days of work.
- Consult org chart. Before directing all trade show follow up communications to the individual who happened to swing by your booth, consult the company’s org chart to see if there happens to be someone else in the team you should also include in your communication. Sometimes the trade show attendee is not the person responsible for the technology they are looking to source. Make sure to loop the decision maker into the post-show communications. For example, “Hey Bob. I met with Jane at the ACME trade show…”
- Follow up effectively. The buzz that follows a trade show fades incredibly fast. The window of opportunity for following up on trade show leads is really “only a few days, and once you reach 20 days out, people can barely remember they attended the event, let alone remember a specific product.” Make sure that your post show follow up is effective and targeted but also timely. This means that you should design follow up campaigns before you go. Once your leads are cleaned up and prioritized, initial follow up emails can be rolled out using an integrated marketing automation
- Get personal. Maximizing the ROI from trade shows requires that you make follow up calls quickly. Our customer, MECLABS, conducted a study on the effectiveness of trade show follow up which demonstrates with incredible clarity how important rapid contact is: 60% of the contacts that yielded any results were contacted in the first day of calling. Calls made after 3 days had incredibly diminished results. So open up your sales intelligence database and get the direct dial phone numbers of those critical contacts and get calling!
- Technology is your friend. DiscoverOrg’s tool, Triggers, allows you to take your “hot list” of qualified leads at the trade show, and create a related alert system that notifies your team when any new contacts or updates are added to the target account’s company profile. Or your sales team can use our related Scoops functionality to be stay on top of leadership changes or new initiatives occurring at your top prospect accounts. Sales scoops like these give your team an opportunity for future follow-up if the prospect is not ready to purchase right after the show or requires some additional nurturing. For example, an ice breaker several months after the trade show could be phrased like, “Greetings Jane – We met at the ACME tradeshow back in December. I saw that you were recently promoted to the VP of Infrastructure. Congratulations…”
So, after all of the parties, booth set-up, demos, and squeezie balls, the real work from a trade show has only just begun. However, with a solid plan in place – including a strategy for pre-show, at-show, and post-show – you can reap the significant return of this valuable marketing channel.