Tradeshow Success

By Lain Chroust Ehmann

If your salespeople are telling you the leads they get from tradeshows are a waste of time, then you might be going about your tradeshow activities the wrong way. “Tradeshow leads are some of the best leads you’ll ever get,” says John Hasbrouck, CEO of tradeshow lead management system provider NewLeads. “But if they’re not properly qualified, managed and used, they’re the worst.” Want another reason to go after those leads? Leads generated through tradeshow exhibits cost 56% less to close than field sales calls, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research.

Hasbrouck says companies can maximize their tradeshow attendance and revenue generation by following these five steps.

Determine your definition of a lead. For each show, determine what type of buyer for which products, what size deal, and what timeframe are necessary for a prospect to count as a qualified lead.

Standardize your lead form to match your backend database. “That’s the number one flaw,” says Hasbrouck. “Lacking a standardized lead form slows down the backend process.” Amidst the hustle and bustle of the show floor it sometimes can be difficult to ask for more than the basics – product interest, timeframe, size and type of buyer. Even if you can get more detailed information, don’t bother if your backend database is not set up to include additional fields. “Don’t gather what you can’t use,” says Hasbrouck.

Train your reps to qualify leads quickly. Hasbrouck recommends the GALE system:

  • Greet attendees.
  • Ask them questions: What do you do at XYZ company? Are you in the market for our product now? When do you need to make the purchase? How many are you looking for?
  • Listen to their responses and needs and quickly determine if they are a qualified lead or if they’re just after the free yo-yo you’re giving away.
  • Enter the lead only after you’ve done all of the above.
  • Pre-stage your post-show mailing and other follow-up activities. “The value of a lead starts disintegrating the moment the individual leaves your booth,” says Hasbrouck. To get a jump on your follow-up, write your email and paper letters before the show. Alert your fulfillment house and your IT department or CRM administrator and send them a sample of the data export you’ll be forwarding to them after the show’s close.

    Establish a follow-up system to track leads. Determine before the show where A, B and C leads will go, then establish a monitoring process through your CRM system or simple online procedures your sales reps can follow to enter very basic information, such as the sales stage and expected value of the lead. “That’ll help you analyze your show and see how good your leads are,” says Hasbrouck.

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