Digital and traditional marketing methods can be effective ways to increase brand awareness, but they aren’t necessarily the most important tools in your toolkit when it comes to procuring new clients and closing sales. If done correctly, still nothing compares to the opportunity face-to-face marketing can provide with meeting, qualifying, engaging, and converting prospects into clients.

In a world dominated by screens – computers, tablets and mobile applications – the trade show is one of the final frontiers in face-to-face marketing opportunities. Trade shows offer the unique ability to capture a captive audience who is not only open to your message, but also looking for your solution. So how do you differentiate from the bevy of competitors who are also vying for that same audience? And just how do you convert those prospects you meet into long-term customers? It’s simple: the power of human connection and the right lead-retrieval program.

Getting To Know the Person Behind the Business Card

As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou was onto something with regards to trade shows and lead-retrieval programs. Again and again studies have proven that people want to buy from people/businesses they can trust. So as you are selling your services at the trade show, remember that there is a person behind every business card or badge swipe; and, that person is looking for a partner they can trust. The most important way to begin to build that trust is to immediately make them feel like they matter. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. When you meet a new prospect in your booth, treat them like you want to be treated; treat them like you would treat your existing clients. Get to know them, identify what’s important to them, and work to understand their challenges. From the first meeting, think of them as your next big client and not simply a name on a business card.

We know what you’re thinking: how could I possibly spend this much time with every person who comes to my booth? If you are managing your lead-retrieval program correctly, you shouldn’t need to. Your lead-retrieval program should begin long before the show, by identifying a prospect list and key qualifiers that will help you know who and how to best maximize your time on the show floor. Your pre-show work will set you up to ask the right questions and know with which visitors to focus your time. And, while you are spending time with those visitors, you’re also using those questions to gather valuable information that will directly feed into a more personalized, impactful follow up.

Expert Tips for Building and Executing a Strong Lead-Retrieval Program

Are you managing your show leads as effectively as possible? If your answer is anything other than a resounding yes, read on. Exhibitpro is sharing some of our top tips for beginning, enhancing and maximizing lead-retrieval programs:

1. Lead retrieval works best when you begin early. To recognize the best results, we recommend that you begin your lead-retrieval program long before your plane takes off for the show. In the months and weeks leading up to the show, take time to identify and learn about key prospects, and actively engage in getting them to your booth.

  • a. Do your homework. Create a prospect list with key qualifiers that help you identify whose problems you can solve. This will help identify those you already know as prospects, and will be a helpful tool to evaluate prospects that visit at the show. It will also give you a list of questions to help you gather relevant, personal information that will directly improve post-show follow up.
  • b. Make the first move. Whether you choose email, phone calls, hand-written notes or a combination thereof, you must make the first move by inviting prospects to your space. Show them you know them and focus communications on trying to identify what challenges keep them up at night.
  • c. Keep it real. Invite them to meet with you, but don’t make it a sales pitch. Focus your efforts on understanding their challenges. Build a relationship. Don’t make your communications all about gimmicks and giveaways.

2. When it comes to lead retrieval at the show, the age-old debate of quality vs. quantity should not be a debate at all. Quality is always the answer.

  • a. Spend your time where it matters. Focus your efforts on the quality leads that are most valuable to your business (refer back to your prospect and qualifier lists often).
  • b. Stay focused. It’s easy to get sidetracked by the chaos of the show floor, but remain focused on attracting the rightvisitors – and not allowing yourself to get caught spending all of your time with the wrong ones.
  • c. Don’t just sell, solve. Remember, it’s about solving your prospective customer’s challenges, not simply selling them on your products. If you take the time to get to know them and their challenges, they’ll see that you are equally invested in their long-term success.

3. Have the right people in your booth. The trade show is booked, the booth is being constructed, and now it’s time to secure the staff. Traditionally, that has meant putting the show on the sales team’s calendar to represent the company. Not so fast. Every booth on the floor is filled with skilled sales persons who live for a room full of prospects. But is that the best way to use your trade show to build relationships? Maybe not.

  • a. Don’t be afraid to step outside of the norm. What will make you different is by having the right staff in your booth. Sometimes, the role of a salesperson can be a turnoff, as the prospect knows that his or her job is to close a deal. We recommend pairing your sales person with another employee who is known as a skilled relationship builder. Don’t hesitate to look beyond sales and marketing to find an employee who may be right for the assignment – and may also enjoy the growth opportunity the trade show experience provides.
  • b. So, just who has the right stuff? Look for employees who excel at building relationships and solving challenges. Those are the representatives that will make prospective clients feel like they can trust you.

4. Follow up, follow up, and follow up again. Your lead-retrieval efforts are not complete when you leave the trade show. Quite the opposite. Carefully planned, systematic, and consistent follow up will be necessary long after the show doors close.

  • a. Prioritize. When you return from the show, sift your leads into two categories: priority one and priority two. For your priority one leads, make sure you are connecting with them five-to-seven days after the show. Again, make your connection about providing a solution to their challenge – not selling your product. For your priority two prospects, 10-15 days is generally acceptable.
  • b. Show them you were listening. Tailor your communications to be personal and focused on what you learned at the show.
  • c. Track your progress. Tracking is really important, but is something that often gets overlooked. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s going to take some time – and probably quite a few follow ups – to see progress. Be patient and keep tracking so that later on you can see the full impact of your investment.

5. Goldilocks was onto something. When it comes to lead retrieval, there are varying levels of solutions available – from badge scanning to full, branded integration. What’s most important is that you find the right solution to fit your needs. Your exhibit company is a great resource for identifying just-the-right solutions for you.

  • a. Identify the right lead-retrieval technology for your needs. Remember, just because technology exists doesn’t mean it’s just right for you. In fact, one question we receive more than any other is whether clients need to adopt the newest technological solutions for a good lead-retrieval program. The simple answer, no. In most cases, we find e-lead methods to be the best solution for many of our clients. E-lead options generally offer the best value and easily integrate the captured data into existing CRM systems. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest gadgets and applications; however, the right technological solution really depends on your objectives, budget, and how you plan to use the data upon your return. Your exhibit company can help you identify the right solution for your needs.
  • b. I’ve got the latest technology, so I don’t need to do anything on my own. Be careful. Technology can open some pretty unique and exciting opportunities, and it’s fun to be the booth that has the latest, greatest application that the show is buzzing about. But, if you’re not prepared to use the information obtained, or you don’t do your work before the show begins, the technology may be irrelevant. Remember, a lead-retrieval program can be strengthened by technology, but technology isn’t necessary for your program to be successful.

When done correctly, lead retrieval will pay big dividends and make your trade shows an invaluable asset in your marketing and sales toolkit. But, don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what Exhibitpro client, Ginger Brehl, of Cardinal Health has to say:

Lead generation is one of the most important – and most valuable – opportunities that comes from a total trade show experience. And it’s about far more than numbers. In fact, we think of it a lot like growing a garden. You can plant seeds and they will start to bud with little effort, but unless you care and nourish the seeds on a regular basis, you’ll never see the full bloom. Capturing a lead and connecting with someone at a trade show is just the beginning. It’s what you do after the show that builds the relationship, grows trust, and creates long-term business with your clients. Follow up, follow up, and follow up again. Show the client they’re not just a number on your spreadsheet, but make each feel like the most important flower in your garden and you will quickly see your garden in full bloom.”

Ginger Brehl

Cardinal Health

Ready to up your lead-retrieval game, but not sure where to begin? Exhibitpro is here to help. With more than 25 years of trade show experience, we’ll take the time to listen to your challenges and offer one-of-a-kind solutions to fit your specific needs. Let’s CONNECT!

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