This post written by Gwen Parsons, Senior Vice President
Your pre-show promotion campaign was a hit. Your exhibit was awesome. Your booth staff was jazzed to meet with so many customers and potential buyers. You’re back from the exhibition with a batch of sales leads. Now the real work begins.
Most business gained from business-to-business exhibitions is the result of follow-up efforts. Without it, you have little hope of winning any sales. Think of the exhibition as the start of a dialogue. You need to continue the dialogue in order to develop a client relationship. Visitors trust you to follow-up, so don’t disappoint them. It communicates sensitivity to their needs and demonstrates your reliability as a potential partner or vendor. Effective lead follow-up requires planning, speed and frequency.
Benjamin Franklin once said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” A surge in leads can wreak havoc on your day-to-day routine. Don’t let your leads get bogged down by internal bottle necks and finger pointing.
Make decisions before the exhibition so time and energy is focused on execution after the exhibition. Decisions to make:
- Agree on how the leads will be distributed — before or after getting them into your database?
- Determine who will be responsible for lead follow-up – sales, marketing, outsource personnel?
- What will the leads receive – email, phone call, social media posts, snail mail or a combination?
Faster is better in the follow-up game. Since attendees visit many exhibitors on the exhibition floor, it’s safe to assume your leads are also your competitor’s leads. Swift follow-up is a positive reflection on your brand and may even get you “in the door” first.
A percentage of the leads you capture will be sales ready. The key is getting to the sale with repeated follow-up. In the CEIR report, The Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation: Part II, it is documented that it takes fewer sales calls to close a sale with a lead from an exhibition than without one. However it is likely to take multiple follow-up efforts. On average, it takes 3.5 sales calls or less to close a sale from an exhibition lead compared to 4.5 sales calls without an exhibition lead. So, the message is, engage in follow-up!
As for leads whose purchase needs are longer term, persistence! It is import to stay in touch with them until they are sales ready. Nurture them with consistent communications that describe how you can help solve their business challenges. So when they are ready to buy, they will think of you.
For information on this topic read CEIR’s report titled Exhibitor Sales Lead Capture and Follow-up Practice Trends.