The Trade Show Bureau reports that 80 percent of exhibitors never follow-up on leads at all, and of those that do, 43 percent don’t get the information out until after the prospect has already made a purchase! Follow-up is essential for a successful trade show; there is no room for slacking!
The time to prepare for lead follow-up is before the show. Have packages or letters ready to be sent out as soon as you return to the office. You may want to plan accordingly for the different categories of leads:A- very serious/ready to do business now B- interested in doing business within the next few months C- may be interested in the future, but not now
Make sure to have packets of different information than that which you handed out at the show. Your leads will all be different, and therefore should be treated individually: those ready to do business now should be called as soon as you return; those who merely dropped their business card in a bowl in passing should be sent a brochure that gives them a basic overview of your company.
To keep the leads well organized, rank all of the contacts as soon as the show is over each day, placing the most serious ones on top, then you will be sure to contact the potentially most important ones first. It’s useful to have a binder containing loose-leaf paper so you can staple the business cards you collect to a page and write any additional information next to them: specifically what you talked about; what they are interested in; how serious they are; and what you promised them (whether it be to send more company info, call them, meet them on another day, etc.). Keeping these pages in a loose-leaf binder allows you to move them around so that you can rearrange their order whenever necessary.
Badge scanners are another great option for collecting leads and keeping them all in one place. Instead of having to take the time to write down a contact’s name, company, address, and other info, simply scan or swipe their badge and have all of this info automatically recorded. This can be much more convenient and efficient than trying to keep track of the hundreds of business cards you’ve collected. After the show, the info will already be entered into a format that can easily be added to CRM programs or used as mailing lists. The only negatives are that renting the scanner can be expensive and some scanners do not allow for you to add your own notes. So be sure when using a scanner to take notes about what you talked about with the contact and what they were interested in. Certain apps for smartphones perform similar tasks to the badge scanner, so be sure to look into them for a low-cost alternative.
Be in contact as soon as possible while you and your business are still fresh in their mind. The latest you should be contacting leads is a week after the show. Any later and chances are you will never do it. Take into account that your competitors may also have spoken to this prospect at the show, and the longer you wait the more likely they are to beat you to the follow-up! Do what you said you would do. Whatever you promised needs to be done as soon as you return home. Send an email thanking them for taking the time to visit your booth, remind them who you are, and mention you will be in contact with them again soon. You can use the same email content for each lead if you are short on time, just be sure to personalize each one with the contact’s name at the top.
When appropriate, be sure to send them a brochure, flyer, or something else regarding your business, along with a hand-written thank you letter in the mail
The key to successful follow-up is to be personable and friendly. Don’t just try to sell at this point; try to build a relationship or make a new friend. That will be much better for both you and for the potential client in the long run!