There are many benefits to attending an industry trade show. You scope out the competition, network with potential partners and customers, get feedback from attendees on your products and services, and meet with media for potential news coverage. But one of the most important, tangible items every sales and marketing executive expects to obtain from a trade show is a qualified list of leads for potential sales. Following are tips to help you qualify your leads and thereby maximize your trade show investment:
Rank your list. Rank your leads by putting each person on an A, B, or C list. Discern who is the decision maker, has buying authority, a budget, a need for your product or service, and is ready to buy—that becomes your A list. The other ranks can be for influential people, gatekeepers, or people who aren’t ready to buy just yet.
Strike while it’s hot. Immediately contact the A list. Follow up persistently on any conversations held or action items promised at the trade show. If your relationship is good, and you’re getting the right cues—don’t be afraid to ask for the sale—they may be ready.
Keep the communication going. Make sure all of your leads get a follow-up e-mail within two to three days of the end of the show. Reference the show in the subject line and you’ll get into their mailbox—a prerequisite for further communications.
Use your resources. If you’ve contracted a distributor, allow them to do their job and have them follow up with the B and C lists. You may even want to engage with a telemarketer to follow up with longer lead-time contacts.
The current economy provides many challenges to sales and marketing teams. Having a handle on the leads generated from a trade show will help you expend your resources in the right direction.
Kathleen Buchanan CEO and Founder iinnLight Technologies Laguna Beach, Calif.