Whether you are looking to expand your customer base geographically or via a new industry, trade shows are the perfect place to find great leads. Follow this no-fail strategy for identifying, collecting and following up on leads, and you are sure to blow away your competition.
Identify Your Target Market
Not everyone at a trade show will be your ideal customer. Through the identification of the particular qualities of your ideal customer, you can formulate qualifying questions that will help you quickly determine if the person coming to your booth has real potential as a possible customer. The advice usually given is never ask a yes or no question. In the case of qualifying questions, that is simply not the best advice. At a trade show, you want to know as soon as possible if someone is a fit for your product or service and warrants an in-depth conversation. If you are a residential paving contractor exhibiting at a home show, a great qualifying question would be, “Do you own your own home?” If their response is “No, we live in an apartment,” or “We live in a condo”, that person is probably not your ideal customer. If their response is in the affirmative you may have a potential client. Now you can begin asking more questions to qualify them further.
Set up a Lead Collection system
Before you head to the show create a lead form (paper or digital methods will work) that captures all the information you will need for proper lead follow-up after the show. Just keep in mind that paper lead forms will require more work on your end when it comes time to enter them into your customer relationship managemnt (CRM) system.
Never rely on memory. Along with contact information, your lead system should include information such as:
If you did a good job qualifying visitors to your booth and took the time to collect the information on your lead form, you are already light-years ahead of your competition. Instead of trying to make sense of a fishbowl full of business cards, you have a solid plan in place. Three important lead follow-up steps are listed below:
1) Follow up on your hot leads (those who are actively seeking your services) within three days of the show. Once you have contacted those potential customers, you can move onto leads that indicated they have a need for your product or service and requested you reach out to them in the near future.
2) Send out all information requests within a week of the show close. If you did a good job collecting information, you could delegate this job to someone else in your office. You can see how a few extra seconds in the booth can save you hours when you return to your office.
3) Enter all leads into your CRM system and include notes on objections/concerns, need, buying authority, and preferred method of communication.
All this can seem a bit overwhelming when your booth is busy with prospects, but trust me—the time you take will be worth it to you and your prospective customer. Following up on trade show business goes a lot better when you can start your conversation with a reminder of what you talked about at the show. It demonstrates that you pay attention to what your customers tell you, which is critically important. And at the end of the day, taking these three simple steps will result in higher conversions and increased sales.