You know the drill. Off you go to that trade show, and you spend however long networking like crazy, pushing out business cards left, right and center, using LinkedIn like a manic for two or three days after, and then…nothing.
That’s an extreme example of course, but the fact is the majority of what we would consider bona fide leads that we generate from attending those industry specific trade fair, exhibitions and networking events fail to materialize into anything tangible. What are you doing wrong? Are you taking an important misstep in how you are following up those leads after the event? Are you waiting too long? Are you acting too keen? (there’s no such as ‘too’ keen, just someone who follows up in an inappropriate way). In some ways it’s a bit like after that first date…how do you play it just right to ensure there is a second?
Here’s how you can start effectively turning your trade show leads into converted sales – getting the success that your hard work deserves
Pre-identify what a good lead will look like, and know what to do with it.
Once the dust has settled on a trade event, you will be left with a substantial list of names representing a number of different organizations. That’s great. However, what you should ascertain before the event even takes place is what leads you are actively searching for. Of course it would be careless to overlook any potential lead – even someone who seems to have no relevance to what you do will have a connection with someone else who does – but you certainly must prioritize what those good, meaningful leads look like and make those your first follow-ups after the event.
How do you ascertain if someone is that lead? By having focused questions that you ask at the event itself. So when you are having a conversation at the event (and it should be a conversation, not a pitch) then you can drop in those pre-prepared questions that provide the types of information-laden answers that you can use to distinguish priority leads. This is known as pre-qualifying,” says Pete Toshack, a sales manager at Writinity and LastMinuteWriting.
Then your sales team can get to work. But your sales team needs to be trained in exactly how to proceed with those leads once you have them too.
Use automated lead-capturing software
As always, there is a software out there that can make your job easier. Sometimes you don’t even know it exists, but in this case, the value will be apparent immediately. While still at the show, when you get contact information, collect it in a program such as Typeform, or Google Forms, which can be integrated directly with your CRM, meaning that the follow up process is immediately automated with your usual marketing and sales channels. Otherwise it can all get a bit messy, contacting people by email, social media or whatever it may be.
Immediately contact your leads
In the immediate aftermath of the event, follow up with your leads in one degree or another. This usually means just a little private message on LinkedIn, or a quick email to say how good it was to meet at the event (although if, like the previous point suggests, you have collected the lead in a savvy way, you can immediately integrate that lead into your normal marketing funnels).
“A quick follow up after the event reinforces your name and brand in the mind of that individual, who like you would have been bombarded with introductions over the course of the actual event. You want to stand out, and sometimes that little personal touch via a direct message can be the push that is needed,” recommends Carole Misner, a business writer at DraftBeyond and ResearchPapersUK.
Include CTAs in your second follow up
The first follow-up was just a gentle reminder of who you are and what you spoke about at the event. The second follow-up, however, needs to make something happen. Firstly, you need to identify what that ‘something’ is. This is your CTA. So very quickly you need to move from the pleasantries to what you actually want (but don’t be quite as explicit as that, obviously). What are you looking to do exactly with that lead? And this should link directly back to the pre-event lead identification and prioritizing that you performed.
Rank your leads, and know what to do with them
You are now in a position to rank your leads and prioritize accordingly, and follow up with the exact course of action (and relevant CTA) that you had planned all along. You can see now how this step links directly back to the first point on this list (pre-identifying what a good lead will look like, and knowing precisely what to actually do with that lead). It should all be part of a deliberate process, not something haphazard and unrehearsed.
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