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How Trade Shows Work

        Money | Marketing

Lead Tracking
Did you know that 79% of all leads are never followed up? If you've ever attended a trade show and asked for information from a lot of vendors, then most likely you've personally experienced that response rate (or lack of response). Did you make the effort to track that company down and ask for the information again? No, probably not.

Checklists
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So, now you're in charge of the lead management process for your company. You know you don't want that feeble level of responsiveness to be the case for your company. But, how do you set up a system that ensures adequate follow-up, and ultimately closure of sales, without overtaxing your resources and sending materials to people who really don't want them? You know that lots of people dropped their business cards into the fish bowl at your booth so they would be entered into your drawing for a free Palm Pilot, but they have no interest whatsoever in your product. While fish bowl giveaways are a good way to get people's business cards, they don't qualify prospects and they don't guarantee loyal customers. The dilemma you're faced with is how to determine who is interested and who isn't when all you have is a pile of business cards.

There are some steps you can take to make the lead management process a lot easier and your trade show (and other lead-generation efforts) much more profitable.

First, assign one person the responsibility of managing your company lead system so you won't have so many leads falling between the cracks. If you've followed the previous session on training your booth staff, you may have already assigned one of your booth staffers the responsibility for managing the leads for a specific show. That person should work closely with your Lead Manager.

The Lead Manager should be responsible for:

  • Writing/editing lead response letters
  • Determining the fulfillment package contents
  • Making sure the fulfillment packages are sent out in a timely manner -- not a month after the show, but a week after the show
  • Distributing leads among sales reps (or, if your budget allows for lead-qualification staff, managing the qualification process and then distributing the qualified leads to sales reps)
  • Developing a lead form to collect exactly the information your company needs (or, reviewing the individual show's electronic lead collection systems that are usually available for rent)
  • Setting up a timetable/flowchart for following the leads once they hit the field so you can come up with a return on investment for the show

Writing Response Letters
Writing a lead response letter is usually a much less painful process than writing letters for direct response mailings or other media. In the case of response letters, you know the people have shown interest in your product or service, and now you just have to make sure you answer all of their questions and give them the desire to act on your offer. A few quick tips include making the letter short, your voice and verbs active, and making the closing compelling.