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How to Manage your Trade Show Leads

While trade show leads may range from ice cold to boiling hot, the right strategy can help you close almost any trade show lead successfully. In this section, you’ll learn how to get the most from your trade show leads, whether they’re phone numbers and first names or detailed information about what a prospect is looking for.

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Need more leads? Swap them with other exhibitors

If you’ve attended the same trade show as some friendly competitors, swap some of your sales leads with them to increase your pool of prospective customers. A lot of prospects that speak to your sales team might be better suited to a competitor, and vice-versa.

Sharing leads allows you to maximise the sales potential of your own list and gain a few new prospective customers from a friendly competitor. It’s best not to swap hot leads with a friendly competitor – instead, offer up leads that could go with either company or leads that you think will require extensive pre-selling.

If possible, book a meeting on the spot

When you run into a hot lead at a trade show, you have absolutely no obligation to tell them that you’ll ‘get back to them in the future.’ Attendees come to trade shows to make deals, and very few of them will turn down a good deal on the spot.

If you’re dealing with a hot lead, suggest moving your conversation to a nearby café or restaurant to talk about a deal. Trade shows are noisy environments that aren’t ideal for closing complicated sales. If you have a very enthusiastic lead, however, it might be possible to close them on the spot in your booth.

If the prospect declines your offer for coffee or lunch, book a meeting with them for later in the event on the spot. A great way to close deals during a trade show is to book dinner or drinks for the evening following the show, where your prospect is going to be less rushed and more sociable.

Finally, if you can’t book a meeting during the trade show, get the prospect to set up an appointment for a phone call, lunch meeting, or even a Skype video chat. A lot of valuable prospects are pressed for time during trade shows and can’t commit to a deal on the spot but will happily become a customer after the show.

Even if your appointment falls through, taking the extra step of planning it gives you a reason to get back in touch with the lead in the future. Simple things like plans for a phone call can help your sales team get around gatekeepers should they need to contact the prospect via phone.

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Add your leads to a database during the event

It’s very important to keep a backup of your sales leads in case you lose your phone or computer during an event. Keep a computer on hand during the show, preferably with a 3G Internet connection, and add your sales leads to a spreadsheet or database to keep track of their information.

If your company uses a CRM to manage its customers and sales leads, add prospects in a separate category so that you can follow up on them after the event. Take notes on the interactions you had with a prospect and add them to their file so that you can separate hot, warm, and cold sales leads when you start contacting them.

You can simplify the process of adding leads to a spreadsheet or CRM by using lead retrieval technology.

Follow up while your leads are still hot

Trade show leads are some of the hottest leads you can get, but they’re also some of the most competitive. The average trade show attendee gives out – and receives – a mountain of business cards, making it essential that you follow up quickly to finish your pitch to a prospect before your competitors can reach them.

You should always try to book appointments with your leads while you talk to them at the show. While they might forget about your phone appointment, having a time and date worked out ahead of time gives you an ‘in’ with their receptionist and an opportunity to contact them.

"...always try to book appointments with your leads..."

Follow up with your warmest leads first before working through your list to leads that require extensive pre-selling. Prospects that are located close to you are best targeted using a phone call and an invitation to set up a lunch meeting. Leads that are in another city are best closed over the phone, unless the potential value of the deal justifies the travel expense.

Cool or lukewarm leads can be followed up using social media. LinkedIn InMail (a premium mail service from LinkedIn) is one of the best ways to get back in touch with prospects that you spoke to during the event.

While following up with leads and closing deals after the event is very possible, it’s important to remember that a lot of prospects are inundated with phone calls from sales reps after trade shows. Whenever possible, try to close the deal at the show to avoid becoming another name and phone number in their contact book.

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