Trade shows can be a great investment for your business if you’re looking to gain a large number of leads in a short amount of time. However, due to the large volume of traffic at most shows and the limited time prospects have to actually spend at your booth, it can be very difficult to manage your trade show leads. There are a plethora of costly resources out there to help you, but the most effective of all is to create an action plan to reach and manage your leads before, during and after the show.
Step 1: Introduce yourself in advance. You can save a lot of time and reach more qualified leads by contacting attendees before the show. One question you should always ask management is if a pre-show attendee list will be sent out. Pre-show lists are often a benefit included in the cost of your exhibit space or can sometimes be made available with an extra fee. If you are able to receive the pre-show list, you should always reach out to attendees to introduce yourself and your product or solution and to ask them if they’d like schedule a time to meet with you at the show. If a list isn’t available, many shows will allow you to purchase an advertisement or email blast with similar messaging. No matter what route you choose, it’s very important to be included on the attendee’s agenda and to know who your leads are before you actually meet them.
Step 2: Record your leads and remember the faces you meet. The best (and usually most difficult) way to reach your leads is meeting attendees face-to-face during the trade show. You can often make a more lasting impression on an attendee once you are able to relate with them in person and show them physically how your product fits their needs. It’s very important to record your leads after meeting with them. The traditional way to do this would be to swap business cards. Fortunately, there are easier ways to record leads in this day and age through lead scanning devices, which scan an attendee badge or business card, loading the information into an easy, accessible database. You can also manage leads by offering a raffle giveaway – attendees simply drop their information into a bowl and have the chance to win a prize – providing them an incentive to give you their information. There’s really no wrong way to manage your leads at the show, but the most important thing to remember is to take good notes so you will remember all of the faces you meet.
Step 3: Follow up, and follow up soon. A critical step in managing leads that many exhibitors miss is follow up after the show. It can be easy to let those business cards sit in the suitcase or database while catching up on all the work you missed while you were out, but the sooner you follow up, the better! If you wait too long, your new contacts may forget you or find another solution to fit their needs. Just as with the pre-show list, you should find out if a post-show list is available to reach attendees. You can match the list with the leads you already have to thank the attendees you met and introduce yourself to those you may have missed out on meeting. If you are loading your leads into a CRM database, be sure to credit them from the trade show and keep a close eye on their progress. This will help you to determine whether it will be worthwhile to exhibit again next year.
Good lead management starts with proper preparation. There is an overwhelming amount of information available to help you manage your trade show leads, but the easiest solution is to create a feasible action plan to reach attendees before, during and after the show.
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