Turning Trade Show Leads into Sales

Written by Jim Deady   
Thursday, 11 July 2013

Okay, you’ve been to dozens of trade shows. You’ve met with literally hundreds of visitors to your trade show booth. You’ve talked with them about your ‘latest and greatest’ and you’ve endeavored to follow up with them after the show. All with marginal results; what went wrong?

Well first of all, you’re probably doing everything right. However, when you drill down to the essence of the process you probably need to refine a few important steps to achieve a more effective conversion rate. Here are a few tips:

1) Pay attention to the way you qualify the visitors to your trade show booth.
2) A business card is not enough and a long lead form is too much. The essentials are: obviously the name, company name, phone [land and cell], who makes the decision to buy in the company, what product or service is of interest (will benefit them the most), when are decisions made to purchase your product or service and will they buy NOW? (If you have the decision-maker right there in front of you, never let the visitor leave without asking for the order.
If they’re not willing to commit right then and there, set a time and date to follow up.
Now here is where the finesse comes in. Make note of any comments, specific objections, special situations, concerns, requests, you-name-it. PLUS, make sure you make note of any personal comments the visitor makes – did they just come back from a great vacation or have a memorable meal at a terrific restaurant. Trival? Maybe. Good for follow up; Absolutely. Finally, find out if they are open to a follow up phone call, need more literature, samples?
3) Following up can effectively be done two ways: A) you do it OR B) you have a well-oiled telemarketing firm do it for your organization. BUT, either way here’s the key; FOLLOW UP within two or three days of the show. Let me repeat that, FOLLOW UP within two or three days of the show.
4) Last, make your own rating system for prioritizing and following up visitor inquiries. Here’s one way (but MAKE YOUR OWN). A ‘1’ rating is hot, glowing hot, super hot, you got it –they deserve immediate follow up. A ‘2’ rating is warm and may just require literature or a sample. (BUT the phone call in this instance will make this ‘2’ rating a blinding glimpse of the obvious and turn it into a ‘1’ rating if you ask more qualifying questions during the phone call). And a ‘3’ rating is one where you may simply add the name to your company mailing list. But, here again, a ‘3’ rating can be turned into a ‘1’ or a ‘2’ by that all important phone call. A phone call can take five minutes; a sales call might take five hours, even longer if it’s not more highly qualified.

If you will actually make a form, fill it out with a rating system that qualifies the prospects. It will be well worth the time in tracking these inquiries to a SALE. You got it; turning leads into sales is ‘buying into a system’, qualifying the visitors to your booth (so much so that you actually have something to talk about when you follow up with that all-important phone call) and tracking that lead individually in a timely way. This is NOT a ‘you-can’t-win-the-Lottery-if-you-don’t-buy-a-ticket’ scheme. This is ‘plan your work’ and ‘work your plan’ and turn more leads into sales than you ever have before.

Jim Deady is a 28-year veteran of the trade show industry and the president of Showstopper Exhibits, LLC and his website is www.showstopperexhibits.com. Call (888) 440-0377 or email jim@deady.com with any and all questions about your next trade show.

All of this information and more is found in Steve Miller’s book entitled, ‘HOW TO GET the MOST OUT of TRADE SHOWS.