Get Quality leads at trade/consumer shows

I just read a great post from Janine Popick at Vertical Response.  about how to work a tradeshow.  A comment by Bill Potuchek about following up leads prompted me to offer the following article for your review (By the way, Vertical Response is a great service for staying in touch with your customers and prospects by sending emails, newsletters an other communications. I use them and think they are more user friendly than their competitor, Constant Contact)

Follow-up tips for turning tradeshow leads into sales

This amazing statistic from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research reinforces the necessity for a formal procedure for following up all those valuable leads you’ve collected at tradeshows, consumer shows and events. The studies revealed that 73% of companies that exhibit in tradeshows gather qualified leads, yet 85% of those leads never receive post show follow-up.  Don’t let your company lose out on the chance to turn those valuable leads into sales.  Any leads that have not been sent back to the office for immediate follow-up must be contacted no later than one week from the closing of the show.  Make this a mandatory requirement for all sales staff and request a monthly written report charting the follow-up progress on the assigned leads.  Every staff person who collects show leads should rank them according to quality and make notes on the back regarding customer wants and needs.  In addition, a personal note should be included so whoever follows- up can have create a personal rapport with the prospect.  If you are following up your own leads refer to the ranking category and the notes made at the time of the meeting to remind you of what was discussed, what was needed and what personal tidbit was noted to help jog the prospects memory when you speak with them.  If you are not following up your own leads make sure whoever is assigned the task understands the notes and references on the lead and the name of the salesperson who met that person at the show so they can refer to them during the call.

Below are a variety of ideas you can add to your follow-up efforts that may help to close the deal or gather other valuable information from the prospect. Decide in advance whether to contact the prospect by email, phone, fax or mail.  Here is a money saving tip to keep in mind.  You can mail five, 8 ½” x 11” sheets of paper in one #10 envelope for the cost of one stamp.

Say Thank You

I’m especially impressed with companies that send out thank you notes to attendees who have visited their booth, entered their contest or made a purchase at the show. This special gesture promotes goodwill and helps prospects remember you when they are ready to buy. If the prospect did make a purchase you might consider sending a promotional item along with the thank you note.

Make An Announcement

Include interesting information about your company that is not part of the sales pitch.  Announce who won the drawing, mention an upcoming anniversary or invite them to an open house.  Give them a calendar marked with the dates of all your future shows.  Don’t hesitate to brag about your good fortune or share useful and interesting information about you and your company.

Give Preferred Treatment

If you own a department store credit card then you’ve received inserts in the mail that tell you about the special sale days prepared just for you because you are one of the store’s preferred customers.  They don’t shut the store down for you, but that acknowledgement does make you feel special.  Give your prospects or customers the preferred treatment when you are introducing a new service, policy or product line.  Let your customers or a select group of prospects be the first to hear the news and have the option to look over the offer or purchase the item before it goes public.  Make it clear in your solicitation that they are receiving special treatment and preferred status. This works well to develop brand loyalty.





Take a Survey

If you did not conduct a survey at your booth during the show, consider soliciting your survey response in the follow-up package.  Send along a short questionnaire that asks for opinions and information you need for future marketing.  You can determine how memorable your branding was by asking if they remember your name and what you sell.  Can they recall your marketing message or theme?  Ask them questions that will uncover their value as a client and if they have a need for your services.  Request information about timeline and budget.  If you allow the prospect to answer anonymously, your returns will double.  Another way to encourage the return of the survey is to offer a gift for responding by a certain time period.  Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and you will be sure to get a large number of responses.

Ask For Referrals

Referrals are the backbone of the sales industry. Unfortunately, most sales people don’t remember to ask for referrals. When soliciting a sale or sending information to your prospect list, ask the customer to give you the name and contact information of any person or company that might benefit from your product or service.  If you include a gift or incentive for the referral you will increase your responses.

Share Publicity
Publicity is very powerful and can lend credibility to your cause. If you or your company has been lucky enough to get an article written about you in the local newspaper, make copies and include them in your mailings.  You can put a list of the tradeshows you will be exhibiting in over the next few months at the bottom of the page.  If your industry is making headlines include a copy of the article.  Use publicity to your advantage and share the news.

Solicit Testimonials
A complimentary testimonial from a satisfied customer is a valuable marketing tool. Whenever a client expresses overwhelming satisfaction with your product or service ask them to put their kind words in writing on their company letterhead. You can also solicit responses with your follow-up materials.  Send a form that asks what the customer likes best about your company, products or employees.  Ask permission to quote them. After you accumulate a variety of responses, produce a flyer with all the comments and quotes listed.  Hand these out at events, repeat the quotes on company literature and mail them in your follow-up materials.

Include a Call to Action

In order to solicit a sale and encourage a purchase when you follow up a lead, send more than the standard brochure and sales literature.  Include a special incentive to purchase that will encourage a response and increase sales.  Offer a two-for-one special, a gift with purchase, a percentage off the price, buy one get one free, free shipping with an order or a gift certificate. To motivate a prospect to act in rapid fashion, be sure to include a deadline date by which they must respond.  Don’t forget to include a show code in the literature that will make it easier to track which show the response came from.

Let Susan Ratliff teach your exhibitors how to turn a tradeshow booth into a powerful profit center.  For great resource information on exhibit marketing or to Hire Susan Ratliff to speak at your next event contact her at, 602-437-3634,


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