Tradeshow Marketing - Best practices for tradeshow lead follow-up

Posted by Katie Steelman on Tue, Feb 12, 2013

tradeshow planning

Conversations to Conversions

Talk is cheap. You could have many promising conversations at tradeshows you attend, but those will mean nothing if you don’t follow up on your leads. Industry statistics indicate that approximately 80 percent of leads are left un-followed. Most exhibitors know that follow-up is something that should happen, but many lack the time or know-how to actually do it.

There are various measures you can take to ensure that lead follow-up occurs:

Before the show

It is important to establish a plan of action prior to the show that covers post-show activity in addition to during-show activity. Decide ahead of time how you will follow up with different types of leads. For example, you might place your less qualified leads in a lead nurturing campaign, while your hottest leads are handled immediately by sales.

At the show, it is important that your trade show team members are fully aware of their role in making the show a success. “Work with your sales people to determine what makes for a qualified lead, and be sure that’s the information your booth staffers are seeking to get from booth visitors,” says  Mike Thimmesch of Skylinetradeshowtips.com. “Go so far as to role play before the show, and have your staffers practice writing down those qualifying answers,” he suggests.

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Another pre-show step is to designate one person as lead keeper to avoid confusion. This “lead honcho” will be responsible for leads during the show, while another person should be assigned the task of managing follow-up, says Michael Hatch in an article for Exhibitoronline.com. Hatch suggests making the follow-up manager someone who will not attend the show; this way, that person will not be bogged down with post-show back work and can focus on the follow-up right away. “A Trade Show Bureau report shows that of those exhibitors that do post-show lead-fulfillment, 43 percent don’t get the information out until after the prospects have already made purchases…With immediate lead follow-up, you’ll reach 43 percent more buyers - before they make their purchasing decisions.”

During the show

In the excitement of the show, you’ll want to make sure everyone is staying on task. Your booth staff should be asking the prescribed questions, and your lead keeper should be doing just that – keeping track of the leads. However, the keeper doesn’t have to stash those leads in a lockbox until the trade show is over; if possible, bring a laptop or tablet along so your keeper can enter the leads into your database or email them to your follow-up manager at the end of each day. This way the follow-up manager can get a head start on some of the hot leads.

After the show

After the trade show is when some of the most critical work is completed, when you make sure that all of your pre-event planning and at-show efforts were worth it. It takes more focus to complete these tasks once you’re re-immersed in your normal work routine, but having a follow-up manager who was not at the show will help.   

  1. Phone calls – One of the first steps to ensuring successful follow-up is re-qualifying leads over the phone. Studies have shown that Thursdays and 8-9 a.m. are the best timeslot and day of the week for qualifying leads. In second place time-wise is 4-5 p.m., while Fridays and 1-2 p.m. show the worst results.
  2. Lead-nurturing email campaigns – Depending on their qualifications, some of your leads might be good candidates for an email campaign. Cooler leads who might not be immediately ready to make a purchase usually fit in this category.
  3. Social suggestions – Include a request to like your business on Facebook or follow you on Twitter as part of your follow-up message. It is a simple way to engage and keep up with prospects who prefer this medium to traditional channels.

Tip: Don’t just zero in on hot leads and ignore everyone else; have different follow-up actions in place for different types of leads.

Need help with your next tradeshow? Contact us with your questions and comments.

Topics: Business Insights, Lead Generation, Marketing Strategy, Trade Show Strategy