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Sealing the Deal on Trade Show Leads

April 17, 2015
By Dominick Sorrentino - Editor

Trade shows present great opportunities to meet new people, explore new industry innovations, and most importantly, reel in some new leads. And unlike personal matters — where for example, we bump into an old friend at a store, and say ‘let’s get dinner soon, I’ll give you a call’ with no intention of following up — salespeople and marketers must follow up, and they must to so systematically. Business depends on it.

A recent blog post from VanillaSoft asserts that the best way to improve conversion rates on leads from tradeshows and industry events is to create a dedicated, trade show follow-up plan.

By plan, we don’t just mean a repository — excel spreadsheets, CRM tools, Word documents, etc — for dumping all of your leads. This type of gathering, as listed in the VanillaSoft blog post, causes the following problems:

Opportunity waste. Your reps will often spend time cherry-picking the leads they think will be easiest to close or represent what they believe will be the biggest wins. This wastes opportunities – there may be great potential clients buried in the list.

Time waste. A result of cherry-picking is wasted time. However, reps may also waste their time trying to figure out if the leads on the list are actually qualified. There is also the issue of whether or not the person who dropped by the booth is an actual decision maker. The time wasted following up on bad data could mean you lose a great opportunity with another prospect because you didn’t get to him before your competition did.

Budget waste. All the wasted time and opportunities ultimately lead to wasted spend. Why participate in trade shows if you don’t see an ROI?

What we’re talking about is a system that utilizes each lead in a streamlined fashion. The solution is a lead qualification team that puts each lead in the hands of the rep who is best qualified to handle it. In addition to circumventing the three time-wasters listed above, a lead qualification team ensures that trade show leads don’t flit away like money in the wind. It’s all about return on investment.

Furthermore, VanillaSoft suggests that when the time comes to make the call, reps avoid starting their pitch with where they met. It may sound counter-intuitive, but prospective clients met a lot of people at that same tradeshow, and the last thing they want is another rep saying ‘Remember me? I was the guy in the button-down shirt and business slacks near Booth 29.’ Handle it as though it were a cold call, try to keep a personal touch, and as the conversation progresses, mention something about the trade show — and only if it feels relevant. Where you met is and always will be a lot less important to clients than the quality of the service you can offer. 

Remember, leads are useless if you can’t seal the deal.  Keep these pointers in mind for your next industry trade show, and you’re sure to give your business a boost. 

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