Trade Show Displays & Leads: Don’t Drop The Ball At The Finish Line!
The sad truth is, if you’re not following up on every qualified lead you get as a result of your trade show booth efforts, you might be burning money! Think about it: if a lead is worth $100.00 to your company (for example), and you only follow up on the top 25% of leads (the cherries ripe for picking), that’s like burning three separate hundred dollar bills. Who would do that?!
It’s a complicated situation in many companies, because the investment in trade show displays and booths and attending the shows is generally a Marketing responsibility, while lead follow up is a Sales function.
Sometimes, things get lost in translation and the ball gets dropped. This can have major implications for your marketing department, if it ultimately persuades management that trade shows aren’t a good investment because leads aren’t turning into sales. After all, why should management continue to invest in tradeshows, if the ROI is bad?
Understand that there are different types of trade show leads. Salespeople most often focus on the low hanging fruit: those leads that stopped by the trade show booth and are practically aching to buy. They have a need, they like your product or service, and they’re ready to make the purchase. All they need is someone to write an order.
Then there’s the fruit that’s a bit higher in the tree: they’re just like the low hanging fruit, except they haven’t been sold on a particular vendor. They’ll buy from the company that invests the time to follow up. With appropriate action on your sales team’s part, these leads can easily become your customers. It just takes a little effort to get to a “yes.”
To continue the metaphor, there’s fruit elsewhere in the tree, but it may not be ripe yet or it might be hard to reach. This is where having a “sales funnel” is helpful. These prospects may not be ready to buy right now, but things might change in the future. Having a system in place for occasional contact and effective follow up can turn these “cool” leads into “warm” prospects. And eventually, those “warm” prospects can become “hot” customers.
Then there are the rest of the people you meet at trade shows: those that aren’t prospects for your product or service. They’ll stop by your trade show display, pick up a freebie or two, and take up your sales staff’s time. You need to be prepared to ask the right kinds of questions to identify these “tire kickers” and move them, kindly but firmly, out of your booth.
They’re either the wrong person from the right company, or they meet your qualifications as a potential customer, but they’re not in the buying cycle right now. Or lastly, they’re simply not qualified. While they may stop by your booth and have a genuine interest in your company or your product or service, for some reason, they just don’t meet your customer qualifications.
To help ensure that your tradeshow leads show a greater ROI, follow these four steps to getting your Marketing and Sales teams together:
Before the show, get representatives from Marketing and Sales together in the same room and decide on what you hope to achieve at each show. These goals must be specific, realistic and achievable. In other words, you can’t expect to get 500 leads from a show if you’ve never gotten more than 50 in the past. But lots of companies would kill for 50 solid, well-qualified leads. Then get buy-in from management on these objectives.
2) Recognize The Challenges:
Selling on the show floor is an entirely different thing from most other selling situations. Train your staff (or have them trained) in how to interact with attendees in the trade show booth and how to prospect effectively. Make sure your sales team understands the different types of attendees they’ll be interacting with, and how to deal with each type.
3) Do The Right Things On The Show Floor:
Deal decisively with tire kickers and others who aren’t prospects. Thank them for visiting and move on. Know how to qualify visitors, and invest the time necessary to qualify each one. Spend more of that time asking questions than telling your story. Attendees are there to solve problems, so if you can ask the right questions that identify the attendee’s problem, you’ll know how to sell to them. Learn how to make that attendee’s life easier, and you’ve got yourself a customer.
4) Make Lead Follow Up Your #1 Priority:
Some companies think that the right reason for attending a trade show is simply because their competitors do so. That’s the wrong reason. Your objective should be to separate the wheat from the chaff and identify prospects from among those visiting your trade show display.
Then, grade those leads so those people doing the follow up know what level of interest each lead has demonstrated. Once you’ve gotten the leads, it’s imperative to make following up your most important activity. Poor follow up simply communicates to the prospect that your company doesn’t care about their business.
When you consider how much is invested to obtain every lead from a show, it’s astonishing how little companies invest in capitalizing on those leads. Management needs to be sure to allocate sufficient resources specifically for following up.
Give the sales staff the time required—as well as the tools they need—to call every lead within one week or less of the show. Sending brochures or emails is fine, but nothing beats a phone call.
If you’re not following up with the leads that your tradeshows generate, then you’re simply turning that potential business over to a competitor who’s willing to do the work you’re unwilling to do. And isn’t that kind of like burning money?
Maybe your trade show displays need some help, so that you’re putting your best foot forward and attracting the leads you need. If that’s the case, call us!
American Image Displays represents all major trade show display manufacturers, so we can create any kind of exhibit you can imagine. We’ll even show you what that trade show exhibit will look like before you buy with a beautiful, full-color computer rendering. For more information, call me at (425) 556-9511, visit our trade show supplies website, or just email [email protected].