Your sales team has just returned from the annual trade show, and they are excited. Over the course of three days, they collected hundreds of prospects and collected even more business cards. They are already dreaming of the huge orders they are going to see because of their work.
When they follow up with the leads, though, their elation quickly turns to frustration. Most of the leads are duds. Maybe the person just came to the booth for a giveaway. Maybe they don’t even remember your booth. Whatever the case, it soon becomes apparent that the trade show did not come anywhere near meeting the expectations of your staff.
The problem most likely stems from the fact that many companies look at trade shows as a type of lead farm, a place to collect as many names as possible. However, gauging the success of your trade show presence isn’t rated by the quantity of leads you get, but by the quality of those leads.
What Makes a Quality Lead?
Ask any salesperson, and they will tell you that a quality lead is one that results in a sale. It’s much more than that, though. A quality lead is one that creates more revenue than it cost to get, and that is likely to lead to a conversion at some point.
What you don’t want are leads who never respond to your follow-up calls and emails, who string you along for months before deciding not to make a purchase and who have no need or budget for your product or service — or who lack any authority to make the purchase.
That means you have to work a little harder to get the good leads that your sales staff need. That starts with choosing the right trade shows, where the vast majority of attendees have the power to purchase your product. It also means attracting people to your booth. Promotional items from a site like www.thepenguy.com are a good start. Then, you should create an attractive exhibit and give people a reason to stop by.
Finally, getting quality leads also means training your booth staff to qualify leads more effectively. They can do this by:
Asking Open-Ended Questions. When engaging with a prospect, you should attempt to get as much information about them as possible so you can more effectively show how your product or service meets their needs. That requires getting them to open up and offer more than a simple “yes” or “no” when you ask questions. Before the show, develop a few open-ended questions that you can ask prospects to assess their needs and interest.
Focus on Solutions. When you’re talking with a prospect, try to determine the problems they are facing in their business. Understanding what someone needs, wants or must fix can help you more effectively tailor a solution for them.
Look for Clues. While you should never assume that anyone who enters your booth isn’t a potential customer, you can use certain clues to determine whether you need to put more effort into getting information. Read name badges, which generally include company names and cities, and in some cases, positions. Before the show, learn the names of attendees that you really want to talk with, and pay attention to badges so that when those people come to your booth, you’re ready to talk with them.
Take Notes. Trade shows aren’t always all business. They are an ideal venue for networking and making personal connections. When you meet with someone, be sure to get their contact information, and make notes on the conversation you had—even if it was personal. Did the prospect recommend a restaurant to try? Jot it down, and when you follow up, mention it again. If someone mentions a particular interest or hobby, make a note and bring it up the next time you talk. Those small details can make all the difference when someone is making a buying decision.
Measuring Your Leads
If you attend multiple trade shows each year, or make appearances at the same show year after year, you can get an idea of the effectiveness of your lead generation activities via a few key metrics. Evaluate the number of A leads you get at each show, the number of leads per staffer, the cost per lead, the cost of promotions you used to attract leads as a percentage of your overall budget and the completeness of the leads, and compare them to past performance at other shows. Over time, these metrics will help you determine which shows and activities are worth your time, and where additional training is necessary.
Sometimes, all it takes is one incredible lead from a trade show to make the entire endeavor worthwhile. Remember that anyone who enters your booth could be that lead, and take the time to get to know him or her. That contact could be worth much more than the stack of business cards ever could.
About the Author: Gary Austin, also known as “The Pen Guy,” has been providing organizations with custom promotional products for over 25 years. Gary Austin Advertising specializes in pens, koozies, lighters, umbrellas and pretty much anything else you can think of to get your name out.