The number one reason I hear people attend trade shows is to generate leads. So we’re in agreement that this means lead management is a crazy bit part of why you even go!

The part I really struggle with is this…

A scary statistic floating around that says 60% of leads generated from a trade show are NEVER followed up with? (I’m willing to bet money these are the same people saying trade shows are expensive)

I’ve certainly experienced this first hand . A few years ago we attended some shows and were very active in talking to exhibitors and leaving our details with them. Call it a silly “Jess Experiment”. Aside from being genuinely interested in the products, I was also curious to learn how exhibitors managed the whole lead management process. Oddly, of the 30-40 businesses we left our details with, not a single business contacted us. What a massive disappointment!

It seems ridiculous that exhibitors would bother to spend the time and money on trade shows and then waste all that effort for nothing…

I know exhibits work.

They require a little elbow grease, but they can be an incredible way to introduce fresh faces to your brand and build a real relationship (the old fashioned kind that involves eye contact). So, let’s cut to the chase and give you our do’s and don’ts of exhibit lead management.


DO/ Plan your lead management strategy before the show

Lead management starts well before the show floor doors even open. Be crystal clear on what your message is and who you are trying to attract. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to then how can you expect to attract your ideal client? Your messaging and target audience need to be clearly defined.

Think about how you’re going to actually take visitor details down and incorporate this into your exhibit design. You could add a touch screen sign-in station or a digital contact form that can be completed on a tablet.

Ask your design team for ideas on how you could make any technology relevant and make sure it enhances the visitor experience. We are finding this is a really great way to capture data too (think of it as the hidden workforce working in the background).


DON’T/ Forget the importance of customer service

Putting customer service at the forefront of all you do will make a MASSIVE impact to the success of your trade show. Make sure that your staff are engaging and friendly towards visitors. No one wants to approach a bored, listless person who’s body language screams ‘back the hell off.

Think about how you’re going to handle leads as they come in – Train staff on how to identify and qualify any leads while they’re chatting with the prospect at the show.  Perhaps you could have a grading system for leads, such as A (high), B (medium) or C (low) and then all ‘A’ leads are immediately passed to the sales team. A system as simple as this can ensure that your sales team will value them and follow up the right people first.

Train all of your staff on your lead management plan from beginning to end so that they can see that what happens after the show is just as important as what happens at the show. (In all honesty, this is where the real magic happens. The crowds have gone home and all the hard work you did face-to-face can be reinforced. Miss this step and you’re throwing away money.

Sharing a strategy with your team upfront will help them understand what role they play in bringing in new business and the importance of following the system.


DO/ Note down extra details

Taking a business card isn’t enough. I would even go as far as saying that it isn’t a lead (because it’s not qualified).

Encourage staff to really get to know and understand your visitors wants and needs and then record all details they have about the lead while they’re still fresh in their minds. I often get clients who struggle with this to imagine they’re finding out information from their grandma – You take your time and find out what their triggers are. Make sure there’s space on your contact form (ideally your electronic system) to record any little extra details. These details are what will help your sales team personalise follow ups and make visitors feel like you actually give a crap.

This is the key to making people feel heard and delivering exceptional customer service, which people love!


DON’T/ Leave it too long

Lead follow-up timing is critical! Don’t let the energy drop after the show and slow down your follow ups. I get that you’re tired, but do you really think your prospect cares?

(Sorry – you should know by now that I’m honest to a fault).

You also want to have a plan in place that ensures all leads (not just the hottest ones) are followed up. The idea is to slowly turn those warm leads into toasty hot ones so you want to start reaching out to them with something of value.

Have a follow-up email campaign drafted and scheduled before the show even begins so that as soon as contact details are entered into your system it can be sent off with the click of a button.

If you take nothing else from this post, just do this ONE thing!

You don’t want to collapse in a heap at the end of the show and then have to muster up the mojo to produce any emails. Doing all the heavy lifting before the show even starts means that you have ample time to think about how you will continue to build that relationship and ensure you stay top of mind beyond the show. Don’t forget to include your social media links and encourage people to connect with you. (It’s not everyone’s jam, but we’re all different).

Calls are still the most effective way to connect with your leads but having a series of frequent touch points after the show can keep your leads engaged for longer.

Some ideas for what to include could be, case studies, testimonials, and video demos in your emails and don’t forget that all important ‘Arrange a Consultation’ button in there too.


DO/ Measure it all

Isn’t this a crying shame…

Only 60% measure the number of leads that ultimately convert to sales as part of their exhibit programs’ ROI.

If you aren’t going to track your numbers then how can you ever measure the true success of a show? You may not get direct sales from a trade show, but if you aren’t tracking where/when you first met someone how can you really tell what your ROI is?

There are plenty of amazing CRM’s available now that allow you to tag contacts. Simply tag any contact that engaged with your company and check in at 1, 3, 6, 12, 24 month intervals. It may sound a little like hard work, but it’s not. It’s actually fun to watch your numbers and see how they take shape over time.

Trade shows can not only bring you direct sales but also have the added benefit of strengthening relationships with existing clients. You absolutely want to make sure you are maximising your results!

If you haven’t got a lead management plan in place and want help putting one in place call us to book in a strategy session today. I’d love to help!

Yours in Exhibiting,