You’ve spent a lot of time and effort planning your trade show attendance, and now you have amassed a collection of leads at the show.  This is great news for your business, some these will be people who are looking to buy products like yours now.  So they need to be followed up.  Unbelievably, research shows that 81% of exhibition leads are not followed up.  The leads are unlikely to contact you, so if you don’t follow them up you are probably missing out on several opportunities.  Plus, the ROI for the trade show will be reduced.

After the trade show you should take the following steps:

1. Classify the leads

Enter all the details you obtained into your CRM database if this didn’t happen automatically through lead generation software.  If you don’t have a database, use an excel spreadsheet.  Remember to add as much information as you can about each lead to aid follow up.

Then classify the leads as hot, warm or cold.  This will be dependant on whether they are looking to buy now (hot), maybe sometime in the future (warm) or not really interested (cold).  Don’t reject the cold leads outright, if you nurture them you never know when they might convert to a customer.

2. Assign the leads a salesperson

If it is too much for you to contact the leads personally, assign them to a salesperson after the show.  If they spoke to a particular salesperson at the event, then nurture that relationship by continuing the contact with them.  This is especially important for the hot leads who will want to follow up with the same individual.  If you can’t do that, make sure the salesperson is fully briefed about the prospect with as much information as possible.

3. Contact the hot leads personally

The hot leads will need to be followed up immediately, within a few days of the trade show.  This way the event, and hopefully you, will still be fresh in their mind.  They are keen to buy, and if you don’t follow up with them they may go elsewhere.  Arrange a meeting with them as soon as possible to build on the relationship started at the trade show.  Maybe arrange to take them out for lunch or coffee, hopefully, you can convert them to a customer fairly quickly.

4. Email the warm leads individually

The warm leads should be contacted by email, ideally individually.  Generic mass emails will often get ignored so a quick personal email will be more successful.  Thank them for taking the time to talk to you at the trade show and ask if there is any further information they require.  Offer to meet with them if and when they are ready to take things further.  Keep in touch with them every month or so to see how things are progressing and whether anything has changed.  If they get to a situation where they are looking to buy, arrange a meeting with them.

5. Include cold leads in your marketing

It is still worth keeping in touch with cold leads, you may be able to convert them eventually.  Send out a generic thank you email with a bit more information about your business.  If these leads came to you via a competition you ran at the show, emailing the results out is a good way to initiate contact.  Then keep in touch with them periodically, maybe send them newsletters every few months just to remind them about you.

6. Assess the ROI of the trade show

Evaluating the success of the show a few months after the event is important in order to give you an indication of whether to attend again.  Leave this stage for several months so that the leads you gathered will have had time to progress.

To assess the full ROI, you need to define specific metrics: for the majority of businesses this will be the volume of sales, but it could also include publicity, brand awareness and other contacts acquired.

Tracking leads on CRM software and keeping a good overview their progress can help you assess its value. Calculate the value of the leads gained then subtract the costs of the event to see whether it is worth attending again next year.

Conclusion

Trade shows are a great way to gain new leads for your business, 71% of SMEs won business by face-to-face marketing at a trade show.  But in order to convert the leads you generate into customers you have to nurture them.  Following them up in the first few days after the event is really important while it is fresh in their mind.  Even those that aren’t hot leads can be nurtured, you never know when they might be ready to buy.

For help planning your next event, call us on 01202 723 500 or email designteam@quadrant2design.com.