We're pleased to present the following post from guest submitter Daniel Frank:
So it was great show, you have enough business cards to sink a small ship and you’re looking forward to all the sales you’ll be able claim in few months. And then nothing happens; your leads just vanish into the ether. If this sounds familiar then maybe a few simple techniques might help.
At the Trade Show:
OK, so in the title I said after the trade show, but we do need to do some (read: most of) of our set up work before and during the trade show as well (check out this earlier blog post for some great tips on standing out at the trade show). First of all, a stack of business cards is a good start, but it lacks essential information; such as the following:
- Problems and solutions.Why did this person come to your stand? What problems do they have and what solutions can you offer them?
- Lead score.Are they a hot lead or distinctly cool? Before you go to the trade show, work out a lead scoring system so that you can ensure leads are properly prioritized. Then use it! A simple example might be, A: ready to buy. B: potential buyer but needs development. C: Not a potential buyer at the moment, but could be nurtured. There are a number of more complex and detailed ways of doing this, and you will need to experiment to find out a system that works well for you.
- Reminders.What did they look like? What did you talk about? Any clues to remind you of who they are will make the follow up conversation much easier.
- Who they talked to. Depending on how you organize your staff, you can either make sure that everyone builds their own list of leads, or keep a master list and record who the prospect talked to.
There are a variety of different tools you can use to collect this information: The simplest approach is to run up a basic spread sheet, with the relevant columns. This has the advantage of being easy to use after the show, but will be clumsy to use on the day.
A low-tech but more practical approach would be to print of a stack of scoring cards. These cards still need the same information on them, but the process can be speeded up by attaching the prospective lead’s business card to record personal details.
There are also a number of more high tech solutions; badge scanners can be rented at many trade shows. These are effectively barcode scanners with access to the database of trade show attendees. These provide a quick and simple way to collect contact details and any other information the prospect has shared with the show organizers. The problem is that they often come with inflexible recording systems making it hard to adapt lead scoring to your needs. However, some scanners have the option of printing out stickers with the contact details on, so you can stick the details to your score cards.
Tablet computers such as iPads are also increasingly useful tools, as there are several apps you can get which will make lead capture simpler and easier. The better apps will allow you to combine the flexibility of the score cards, with the speed of the scanners. Many of them are online only, meaning that you can collect the data during the show and then simply export it into a spread sheet when you get back to the office.
The Day after the Trade Show:
Sort your leads by score. Hopefully most of the work is already done here, because you updated your spreadsheet as you went along. Any leads that slipped past the spreadsheet, such as business cards given to you after talks or receptions should also be added in with as much information as you can remember. If you captured lead information by hand, now is the time to enter it into a spreadsheet application for easier sorting.
For any lower scoring leads then now is the time to sign them up to email lists or automated lead nurturing systems. The best way to start this process is to have a post-show communication prepared. This could be as simple as an ‘it was great to meet you note,’ but you will always get a better response by offering deals, whitepapers or other temptations. Even if you don’t think you can make an after show offer, having a set of prepared brochures that you can send out will help to keep your brand fresh in your leads’ minds.
The Next Week:
You want to start contacting your leads as soon as possible after the show is over to make sure that they remember you and what you talked about. A timely follow up is essential, while your conversation is still fresh in your prospects’ minds.
If it all possible, the person they originally talked to should make the call or send the email, as they already have a connection with the prospect. Think about the difference between “Hi Claire, this is Tom from company x our rep talked to you at event y” and “Hi Claire, this Tom, we talked at event x about problem y”. This connection means that you start the conversation where you left off rather than needing to catch up on the basic information.
If you have thought through your lead collection you will already know exactly what the lead needs, so make sure that you have all the relevant information and literature at hand. This will not only ensure you that you can answer their questions, but also give you a range of options to keeping the lead alive, even if they don’t buy right there and then.
About the Author: Daniel Frank is a blogger and online marketer who writes extensively about trade show marketing. He is currently writing on behalf of Nimlok Exhibition Stands. You can follow him on Twitter @danielfrank7.