Super-Charging Your Trade Show Follow-Up Process In Just Seven Steps

Numerous studies have concluded that follow-up of trade show leads is suffering from neglect, or being left to salespeople who cherry pick only the best leads and leave all the other fruit to rot on the tree. A number that’s been floated by many writers and seminar leaders, supposedly drawn from research by CEIR, is that 80% of trade show leads receive no follow-up whatsoever. But CEIR and other industry research groups have consistently disavowed that “fact,” claiming that no study of theirs ever supported that conclusion.

However, a 2010 study undertaken by Lynch Exhibits and In4med Corporation found that less than 70% of trade show exhibitors have any formalized plan for how to follow up on trade show leads. Worse yet, only 47% of exhibitors track leads from trade shows throughout the sales cycle. And this should humble us even more: a mere 28% measure and report the number of leads that ultimately convert to sales as part of the trade show’s ROI.

Here are seven ways your company can super-charge your lead follow up at trade shows and events:

1) Be prompt:

Your follow up program should be in place before the show, so leads can be placed in the system and responded to immediately, rather than waiting until after the show to figure out how you’ll respond. Your email follow up should be as close to the time of the introduction as possible, professionally prepared and personalized to each recipient’s interests.

2) Don’t close—qualify:

In the vast majority of sales organizations, the cherry picking I referred to earlier is the norm. Instead of letting Sales decide who gets any contact at all, decide ahead of time how each lead will be dealt with. Any level of follow up (a sales call, a white paper, a product demo or even a brochure) can help you identify “warm” leads that might get hotter much more quickly than if they were summarily ignored. To avoid this, qualify each lead to receive a specific type of follow up.

3) Think different:

If you respond the same way to every prospect every time, your message will quickly find its way to the trash file. Be specific about the show, the dates, and the person with whom the prospect spoke. Make the email’s subject line specific to each event. Make each email you send sound different than the one before.

4) Don’t be wishy-washy:

End with a specific call to action. It’s useless to say “To learn more,” or “For additional information.” Instead, give the prospect specific instructions on his or her next step. “Follow this link to our blog entry on…” or “Download our white paper on…” or “Watch our short product overview video here.” And don’t just drop all your leads into your marketing database to subscribe them to your newsletter, either. Your trade show follow up email should be just the first of two or three (to be sent a week or so apart) that remind prospects of what your product or service can do for them. Each one should have its own call to action.

5) Remind prospects who you are

Include a mention of what you announced at the show, but don’t let your follow up email become a thinly veiled press release. Your follow up should encourage recipients to take action, not just evangelize about your product or service. It may also be a good idea to include a photo of your exhibit, preferably crowded with people. This reminds the recipient who you are (remember, they saw a hundred or more booths), and subconsciously plants the seed that you were a popular exhibitor. 

6) Introduce yourself

Your follow up email should include the name of the representative who handles the recipient’s territory. Ideally, it should come from that person directly. But if that’s not possible, include the rep’s contact information (direct phone number and email address) in the message. Some subset of your prospects will be ready to do business. Don’t erect any blockades to keep them from doing so.

7) Follow up with the people you didn’t see

It’s obvious that you should follow up with every lead who visited your exhibit. But take advantage of the list of show visitors (provided by the show organizer) to reach out to potential prospects who didn’t get to your exhibit. The message doesn’t need to change much, if you frame it correctly. Simply swap “It was a pleasure to meet you at…” to “We’re sorry we missed you at…” This way, you won’t overlook any prospects you were courting prior to the show, even if they didn’t stop by your booth.

Fast follow up is a critical component of effective lead management. Here at American Image Displays, we pride ourselves on the speed with which we respond to our customers’ needs. Whether you’re ready to discuss a new exhibit, or you simply need a few accessories to spruce up what you already have (like literature racks, lighting kits or table throws), put us to the test and watch how quickly we follow up. Whatever your exhibiting needs might be, we have the talent, experience and expertise to deliver. To get the help you need, call us at (800) 676-3976 or email [email protected].

For more, check out how to outsell your competition or how to spot losers from a mile away.