We’ve covered a lot of territory on the topic of maximizing trade show attendance in my two previous posts in this series. We talked about the value of choosing the right shows and conferences and how to prepare for them. We also discussed how to drive traffic to your booth.
But let me ask you this.
What is the single, most important result of attending a tradeshow or conference?
It’s solid sales leads, right?
With 84% of trade show attendees looking for products and services – and also able to make a buying decision, a successful trade show is critical to your company’s sales cycle.
Lead Development Before, During and After Trade Shows
Lead development is a process. There are actions you and your sales team can take in the weeks prior to the show, at the show and following the show to ensure that your company’s attendance has a significant ROI.
It’s helpful to view a trade show or industry conference as one big sales meeting. You wouldn’t walk into a sales meeting unprepared, would you?
Before you head out to your next trade show, make certain you put your lead generating plan in place.
Few people are comfortable working a trade show, and conference promoters know this. That is why virtually every industry gathering has networking tools attendees can use before the conference.
Sometimes these tools allow you to meet fellow attendees and engage in conversation using messaging channels. Some trade show promoters provide matchmaker services using the criteria you give them. And sometimes the show promoter provides private networking groups on social media channels such as LinkedIn or Facebook for attendees to connect with each other.
You know who makes the buying decisions for your product or service. Get into those pre-conference apps and start looking for your target audience. Start your conversations now so by the time you meet in person at the show, you’ll already have a relationship in place.
Ask for the Meeting
Now is not the time to be shy. There is no need to be obnoxious either. Everyone attending a tradeshow is there for a purpose. Most attendees are looking to purchase products or services to solve a problem and they want to do business.
Prior to the show is a perfect time to reach out to your prospect list and re-start conversations by inviting them to your booth. If they will be attending, ask to schedule time with them. Check in with current customers too.
Work through the list of attendees the conference promoter provides and reach out to your decision-makers. Whether you send personal emails, tap the conference networking apps or use social media channels, request a meeting to discuss the challenges they face.
With almost half of all face-to-face meetings converting to a sale, asking for meetings is critical to your success.
Walk and Work the Floor
Your booth isn’t the only place connections can be made and conversations can convert to sales (or at least take the next step in the sales process). There are many networking opportunities – from cocktail parties to educational sessions where you can meet prospects.
Have you considered how easy it is to strike up a conversation during a lunch break? Get out and get involved in the show’s other activities.
Meanwhile … back at your booth … staff should be focused on diving deep with booth visitors – and taking good notes. It’s not enough to scan a badge and call it a lead. Everyone needs to be trained in asking questions. Here are a few that can move the sales conversation forward:
- What product or services are they interested in?
- What challenges are they experiencing that drive them toward this product or service?
- What timeframe are they envisioning for their purchase?
It’s critical after each interaction booth staff make clear notes which can be entered in your sales database. These notes provide the key steps to personalized tradeshow follow-up.
Nurture Your Relationship with Meaningful Follow-up
I talked about tradeshow follow-up in Part 1 of this series and I simply can’t stress how important meaningful follow-up actions are for your trade show ROI.
Before you leave for the show, you should already have a follow-up plan in place. Your marketing department can create an automated series of segmented emails targeting people you may have missed connecting with or new contacts. They can also build nurturing email campaigns for prospects with longer purchasing lead times. In addition, they can craft follow-up emails that can be adapted by your sales force.
When you return to the office, it’s easy to take pre-scripted follow-up emails and add personalization. By including key information discovered during your conversations and sending targeted whitepapers, case studies or product information, your conference follow-up becomes a valuable email your prospect will be happy to receive. It helps deepen your relationship and move your sales conversation forward.
Your company has invested significant budget in exhibiting and attending trade shows and your team needs to produce ROI. Be sure you use every tool in your toolbox – as well as the conference promoter’s toolbox – to maximize ROI.
What are your most successful trade show tactics for lead gen?
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.