If you have ever been to a tradeshow, you’d understand why some business owners believe participating in one is a waste of time and money. After all, why would you stand all day, selling your heart out without knowing if you’ll make a sale or convert a potential customer? 

I won’t deny it; tradeshow detractors have a point. Tradeshows are labor and resource intensive. However, participating in a tradeshow is far from a waste of time. Many exhibitors who fail to reach their trade show objectives overlook the most crucial aspect of participation: Follow Up. 

It’s true; most exhibitors pour all their time, resources, and energy into the planning and execution of their trade show exhibition. Unfortunately, follow-up gets little to no attention.  

Making the same mistake will cost you dearly; poor follow-up is a significant reason why most trade show exhibitions can’t make a good return on investment. 

In short, you must ensure appropriate follow-up activities to wring the full value from your trade show participation. 

Keep reading to find out how you can get your company ahead of the curve and benefit from all the hard work that went into exhibiting.

Follow Up Begins Before the Show

Fact: Over 80% of the leads gathered at trade shows are never followed up. This percentage is mind-boggling, especially since each lead can convert to an actual sale or become a long-term client.

So what gives? Why are so many leads seemingly discarded? 

The truth is that show leads rarely provide quality follow-up information. Potential clients will either give you cold business cards, or your lead card format only gathers basic company information from prospects. 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why some salespeople don’t consider lead cards a viable follow-up option. 

In short, you need to have a detailed plan for your lead collection process before the show. For instance, you must understand the types of information that are important to your follow-up campaign. You can use this data in designing lead cards that collect information critical to your follow-up campaign. 

Additionally, you should ensure that all your staff members are on the same page. Explain to them the importance of the information you are gathering. Furthermore, confirm that your team members know how to operate the card readers and collect data using the printouts and lead cards. 

Finally, always remind your team of the bigger picture. Your staffers should know the specific results you’re going for at each trade show. This means setting specific, precise, quantifiable, and realistic goals. Remember, while one set of objectives might vary from the next, all your objectives must align with your company’s show goals and marketing objectives. 

The result? Your staffers will be more effective since they’ll know what to aim for at each show. Moreover, you can use show objectives as a benchmark to assess team performance accurately. 

Develop a Follow Up System

A dependable follow-up system is crucial to achieving your trade show objectives. 

With this in mind, it would be best to develop your follow-up plan pre-show when you’re training your team and planning the exhibition. You’ll have enough time to brainstorm and decide how your staffers will handle leads. 

For instance, you can split your lead collection process into two main parts; collecting the leads during the exhibition and processing them after the event. The lead collection team should prioritize the “hot” leads and pass them over to the processing team at the home office immediately after the show. 

Note that having team leaders supervising all aspects of the lead collection process increases efficiency and ensures accountability. 

Remember, timeliness is the key to standing out from your competitors at the show. While following the “hot” leads takes priority, you shouldn’t overlook your other lead cards. Make a point of reaching out to all the attendees that visited your booth within three to five days after the show. 

A simple message will do. You can use a broadcast email to thank all attendees who visited your booth and set a date when they can expect to hear from your company. 

The Next Step: Accountability

The success of your follow-up campaign comes down to how motivated your sales team is. Thus, you need an effective system that holds your salespeople accountable for the follow-up results. 

While there are various methods for ensuring accountability, your best bet is to use a content management database program to distribute high-quality leads among all your salespeople. This way, you know the exact leads that each salesperson is responsible for. 

Moreover, you can accurately track how follow-up is progressing by ensuring that every salesperson files written progress reports at regular intervals. This information will keep you up to date with key metrics such as conversion rates and sales from your leads. 

Measuring results

As you know, trade shows are resource-intensive. For this reason, you need an accurate method of measuring your ROI to justify your investment in a show. 

Tracking your leads allows you to identify sales linked to specific trade shows. This data can be of immense value to your company. For instance, you can estimate the cost of each tradeshow lead by dividing the total show expenditure by the number of leads gathered. You can also measure the cost of each sale by dividing the total show expenditure by your total sales. 

But this isn’t all. Tracking leads gives you access to qualitative data that will significantly benefit you as you plan future trade shows. This type of data ranges from the types of prospects who visited your booth, dates and times of visit to buying intent, and products/services of interest. 

In conclusion, the lead management process is crucial to trade show success. It starts with clear trade show objectives, then establishing an effective strategy, and finally, the actual execution. A follow-up campaign increases your chances of profitable returns from your leads. With a bit of forethought and planning, the results will speak for themselves. 

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