Not Quite Strangers, Not Quite Clients
Waiting to follow up on leads generated at a trade show, or even neglecting to do so at all is the biggest waste of time and money in the trade show process. While every visitor has your information and your pitch in mind, each one also has the same from all your competitors. If you delay in contacting the leads you gathered, you can be sure that one of your competitors already has, and you will lose any chance of developing new clients.
The first step in contacting your future clients is to sort your leads by priority. Using the information you collected from surveys, lead cards, or in meeting with attendees, you should separate them into categories similar to the following:
- Hot Leads – contacts looking to do immediate business with your company and/or have a budget in place
- Medium Leads – contacts looking to do business with your company but are missing a fixed budget and a firm timetable for purchasing
- Mild Leads – contacts possibly looking to do business with your company sometime in the future
- BBQ Leads – these are contacts that simply dropped off their business card or seemed disinterested in your products or services.
Hot Leads are the first people your sales or marketing department should contact. Your goal is to touch base with these people before your competition does. Ideally, you should contact them as soon as possible, but no later than two days after the trade show. Once your company has finished addressing your Hot Leads, you than contact the Medium and Mild Leads in turn. Give yourself about a week to make contact with these leads, but make sure not to forget about them entirely.
Don’t worry about contacting the BBQ Leads. These contacts leave you unsatisfied and yearning for a spicier Lead (as I personally feel BBQ wings do), and you can forget about them.
When contacting all levels of Leads, here are some helpful suggestions to keep in mind:
- Visitors may not remember what you told them, but they will remember what they told you
- Make all your correspondence friendly and personalized for each of your contacts
- Include any offered or requested literature, to reinforce the idea you follow through on promises
- All information should re-iterate and expand upon that from pre and in show
- If you offered both a pre and in show promotional item, include a third tie-in gift to complete your promotional marketing strategy
- If you supplied the attendees with a gift, inquire to how they are using and enjoying the item
- Address any immediate needs through a quote or by suggesting a meeting
After you have completed your initial contact steps, you will want to follow up with at least a monthly correspondence with your leads. This can be in the form of personal emails, calls, or even a company newsletter. Remember, people are more likely to start and continue business with a company that engages in regular correspondence and treats them more than just a one-trade show stand.