Fixing the Missing Links in Trade Show Lead Fulfillment

February 26, 2012

*Editor’s note – Mike’s blog on leads previously was published on Skyline Exhibits, but after a recent #Expochat Twitter discussion on the continuing issue of lead followup, this post is as timely as ever.

If you think you are doing a great job following up on your leads, unfortunately, the visitors to your trade show exhibit may not agree. What you consider good lead fulfillment may look very different to them.

In a blog post on her Trade Show Institute blog, Traci Brown tells a sorry tale about her visit to the AIBTM show, where she happily had lengthy meetings with over 20 exhibitors.  

Unfortunately, after the show, only one exhibitor truly followed up with her. Sure, the other exhibitors followed up with big glossy brochures, e-mail campaigns and the like. But they were all generic follow up messages. Only one exhibitor had specificfollow up that answered the specific questions she raised while in their  trade show booths.

Why is that? Because most exhibitors’ lead fulfillment process is simply not designed for individualized lead fulfillment.

Most exhibitors get leads, and if they are somewhat prepared, they have pre-set fulfillment packets ready to go before the show starts. Then, after the show, they put names on letters and send them out. It’s all they have time to do. But at the trade shows, we don’t meet with generic leads, we meet face-to-face with real, live individuals. Individuals with specific needs, that if you ask and listen, they’ll even tell you right at the show.

The First Missing Link: The Transfer From the Booth Staffer to the Field Sales Rep

The first missing link in most exhibitors’ generic lead fulfillment is passing on to the field sales rep what your trade show visitors told you. And that all starts with your booth staffer.

Your booth staffers must capture what your visitors said is their situation and what they were looking to solve. Your booth staffers must also write down what they promised your booth visitors would be the next step – someone will call to set up an appointment, we’ll send you info and prices on the new products you liked, and so on.

Without knowing what your booth staffer promised, you can’t fulfill on that promise. And when that conversation is accurately and concisely captured, it must quickly be routed to the appropriate sales rep, so they can take the right actions after the show.

The Second Missing Link: The Fulfillment Package

The second part of fixing trade show lead fulfillment is customizing what you mail or e-mail.  You have to be willing and able to customize what you send to your booth visitors based on what they said to your booth staffers. At minimum, your cover letter should say that your company “was pleased to meet you at the XYZ show, and that you’ve enclosed your requested items, and that our company representative will soon follow up about your needs discovered in our booth.”  

You only send the company brochures related to the products your booth visitor asked for. You don’t send 10 product brochures, when they only showed interest in one product. And, for sure, you send the brochures for that one product!

If you want to truly fix the broken link in your trade show lead fulfillment you tailor each followup letter to directly respond to your booth visitor conversations. Writing in the letter that your booth staffer learned you ask for ____, and so we will be sending you a price quote/calling for an appointment time/talking with our engineer about your project/gathering up samples to show you or something else appropriate for the next step.

“We Can’t Do That, Can We?”

Now, I hear your objection to this: “We don’t have time for this high level of customized lead fulfillment! Our booth visitors expect an answer fast!” Yes, booth visitors do expect a quick answer — but as Traci’s experience shows, even more they want the rightanswers.

And you can pull this off. You just need to also qualify your leads while in your booth. Your “A” leads are your best leads – immediate needs, have a budget and authority to buy. So the smaller portion of “A” leads are the first ones you fulfill, with letters and products customized to their requests.

Then, fulfill the “B” leads, which may have a need, but not immediately and perhaps without an approved budget. Once those are out the door, then fulfill your “C” leads … which may get the more generic “Thanks for visiting our booth at the XYZ show” letter anyhow, because that’s how far the conversation went.

More effort?  Certainly.  Worth it?  Definitely.

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