Collect trade show leads your sales team will love

Written by Susan Ratliff on May 29th, 2013. Posted in generating leads

Curtis Gattis at Sparksight recently posted about why sales teams hate tradeshow leads.   His five tips are great. Here are a few additions from my perspective

 Set trade show Goals: Curtis’ #1 recommendation is key.  Too few companies even have a conversation about the goals they wish to accomplish before the show. The assumption of course, is to get leads, but there are so many other goals to accomplish while you are there.  The discussion needs to take place before the sales team goes to the show.  The more goals you have to accomplish, the more chances for success.  Getting quality customer leads is first, but look at what else you can do while you are there.

  • How about assigning someone to collect competitive intelligence.  Your competitors will probably be there, why not observe and report back with some useful data. 
  • How about seeking publicity?  What can you do at your booth or at the show that would attract a reporters attention? Are you bringing in the company top gun, featuring a celebrity at your booth or launching a new product or service? Send out some media releases and invite local reporters to your booth.  Be ready to give them a newsworthy experience.
  • Do some market research.  You have a million dollar opportunity to check the pulse of the public. Ask your target customers what you want to know about what they want, what they hate and how you can help.  You will be surprised at the amazing and valuable answers you will uncover.

Rank those trade show leads:  How many times have you seen attendees toss their business cards in a bowl for a drawing without first talking to a salesperson.  How about the salesperson who swipes a prospect’s badge after a qualifying conversation, but adds no intimate details about the person or what they needed?  Technology is taking over the lead generating process with computer screen surveys and apps on iPhones and tablets, but too often important questions are skipped and incomplete info is gathered. Leads like that are about as valuable as pulling a cold prospect list off a google search.  I personally hate that with the new technologies we are losing that personal touch that makes a face to face event so unique.  Regardless of all the elaborate bells and whistles out there for gathering data, what your sales team and more importantly what the person who is following up on the leads needs, is useful information that will result in a sales.  Here are three recommendations that will improve the closing ration and follow-up results.

  • What is the quality of the lead?: A simple ranking system with A leads being hot prospects, B leads might purchase within six months and all C leads just stopped by for the drawing or give-a- ways. This step will help a salesperson prioritize the prospects.
  • What does the prospect want?: What was discussed at the booth? What questions did the attendee ask? Do they need confirmation on size, color, deliver time, pricing, availability?  What instructions can the booth staff include on the lead that will help satisfy the prospects questions and fill their expectations regarding what was promised at the show?  This is especially important when the salesperson who took the lead is not the same person who follows up.
  • That personal touch:  It could be days before the follow-up call is made or the email is sent.  It is difficult for any salesperson to remember what was said to any particular prospect on the show floor.  It is even more difficult to make a personal connection when you were not even at the show.  When the salesperson references the business notes about what was discussed at the show they will trigger the prospects memory about the experience at the booth.  If you really want to have some unique ammunition that will help you stand out from the three other companies calling on this prospect, then include a personal comment when recording the lead information.   Did you discuss the results of last nights hockey playoffs?  Did she mention she just had a baby?  Was he excited about his recent move to Chicago?  If you can jot down one or two personal tidbits to refer to in a future conversation you will stand out and be remembered by that prospect.  This personal touch might just be the factor that gets you the sale.   


Want more sales? Get more leads

Written by Susan Ratliff on April 6th, 2012. Posted in generating leads, Uncategorized

My plan was to do a little research in the exhibit hall at the conference I spoke at recently.  I wanted to personalize my session to the specific audience and highlight the good sales techniques of a few of the participating vendors.  One of the things I was looking for was the types of lead generating strategies the exhibitors were using to capture a prospects contact information like company name, email address and phone number.  Some of the common techniques would be

  • holding a drawing
  •  having a contest.
  • playing a game
  • taking a survey. 

There is usually a bowl or basket on a table or counter where attendees can deposit a lead form or business card. Smart exhibitors will keep their forms on clipboards and write down the contact information while they engage the attendee.  I walked the entire show floor and inspected over 100 booths.  I found only five companies that had any type of lead capturing process that was obvious to me.  That was pretty hard to believe.  What were those other companies thinking?  Why were they at the show?  I asked a few how they were getting their leads.  More than several said they weren’t collecting leads because they would be getting the attendee list after the show.  I am thinking, are you kidding me? They might as well cold call 100 names out of the phone book, randomly search for customers on Google or throw darts at a map. Why spend thousands of dollars on an exhibit and booth space and take the staff out of town for a week if you aren’t planning to cultivate prospects and gather some intel?   Face to face marketing is why you exhibit at a tradeshow.  Meeting your potential customers personally so they get to know who you are is part of the value of exhibiting.  It’s where you can connect a name and face to a your business. Your chance to dig into what makes your customer tick. If you ask they will tell you what they love and hate about your business. What they want from you and your industry. What problems they have an solutions they need.  If you listen and they like you and you follow up effectively they will buy from you.   Make a plan to do that at your next event.  If you need some ideas or want some advice on getting the most from your next tradeshow contact me, Susan Ratliff, The Exhibit Expert at