screen.shotFinding the best possible leads at a trade show is akin to prospecting for gold. You look around, ask a few open-ended questions, and hope you strike it rich. But that’s only the first part of the equation. After that, someone has to close the sale.

In business we talk about ‘closing the sale’ as the final, definitive action and it’s up to the sales team to accomplish. Unlike the normal sales process, at trade shows the ‘close’ is not necessarily getting someone to sign on the bottom line.  It is usually about collecting enough information on the prospect to warrant interest from sales.

The best place to find this information is by asking the sales team what, to them, defines a qualified lead, because only then will they follow up. This list of attributes, called lead qualifiers, determine the difference between a hot lead and a tire kicker. Even more important, we need to have a means of collecting and quantifying this data.

What are good qualifiers? My first question, or qualifier, is always some version of, “Can you write a check or issue the purchase order?” As a qualifier, this translates to job title and responsibilities. I also want to know if a budget has been allocated for my product and when the prospect plans to complete the purchase. Another key question is who else will be involved in the decision making process.

Asking these questions and collecting these details always precede a sales pitch of any kind because good prospects will usually tell you everything you need to know to customize your presentation in terms of their needs a wants. Now is the time to trap the name and contact information on the person.

Next, you want to provide information to the prospect that supports your presentation. This may include a video of a process, a case study, a letter of recommendation from a satisfied customer or a brochure of core competencies.

How you trap this data, distribute marketing collateral, and get it into your corporate CRM database (customer relationship management) is much easier today than ever before because technology makes it quick and painless. It also allows you to determine the value of your exhibit marketing by tracking trade show leads from the first touchpoint through to the sale.

A recent study on lead generation said over 60% of exhibitors have no formal lead scoring or ranking process. Without defining what constitutes an A lead versus a C lead, there’s no consistency for follow-up. Worse, a majority of exhibitors are still collecting business cards, using hand written lead forms, or getting a basic scanner from the show organizer.

Instead of printing (and shipping) collateral and renting a single scanner, a good lead management app that works on cell phones and tablets will be both more cost-efficient and give you better data afterwards. It means all your exhibit staffers can have a personal lead data collector, lets them qualify and rank each lead, distribute collateral, and define the type of follow-up required.

Today’s marketers need the best information possible to justify their exhibit programs. Technology provides the best solutions to accomplish this. And leads that convert to sales will win you gold.

Author: Margit Weisgal. CME, MSc    Twitter: @msmargit

Blue Stone Business Development

Margit has a real talent for envisioning goals, crafting the necessary plans, and nursing those plans to fruition. She’s is a passionate professional with the drive and determination to take on even the toughest challenges. And she always does it with keen insight and good humor. She is a tireless motivator and innovator and is constantly thinking through ways to make those around her better.


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