Seriously, Isn't the Need to Follow Up on Leads Obvious?

December 31, 2012

Lisa Apolinski

Lisa Apolinski is a professional speaker, blogger, and digital strategist. With her company, 3DogWrite.com, she works with event managers to get their message to attendees, particularly through digital channels, on and off the show floor.

I am getting on my soap box as we close out 2012.  I see blog after blog talking about the importance of follow up of leads after a trade show.  This should be rather obvious, but clearly a topic where we continue to fall down. 

Why go to a trade show and collect leads if you sit on them for months at a time?  I am going to assume we all have the good intention of following up, and something is happening to prevent that.   And, since we are all in holiday mode, with parties a go go, I am going to use that analogy to highlight three areas where I think the issue could lie, and ways to avoid the pitfall.

Think about your most recent party or dinner you planned.  You probably had everything down except the clean up and thank you notes, right?  I hate clean up and will do anything to get out of it, and thank you notes, after a whirlwind of parties, is something very easy to put off.  The same goes for your lead follow up.  It is not sexy, it takes work and you just want the trade show to be over!   So, let me outline some ways to make it a bit easier.

1. Get me packed up, off the floor, and back in the office already!  Most of us have multiple roles, and trade show manager is only one of many.  Once the event is over, you want it to be over!  But, well placed planning, expectation management, and bringing in other resources can help you get over this hurdle.  This is where you need to keep momentum going and have a plan in place to outline when leads should be followed up and by whom, have communications ready to go for your sales staff, and use staff members who weren't directly involved in the trade show and are not suffering from 'burn out' to help keep that pace up.  But the key here is to have the plan of follow up mapped out and clear so people can follow along.  Time is not on your side, so staying on target becomes essential.

2.  Do as you go.  I love this idea of cleaning up as you go so the final mess isn't so bad.  The same goes for your lead follow up.  Who says you have to wait until the show is over to start the process of lead follow up?  If you have a generic email that can be sent out with links to brochures, or someone in the office who can set appointments for 'hot' leads as soon as you get them, then do as you go.  Nothing says 'we are on top of things' than to have an email waiting when a prospect gets back to their hotel room on the info they requested.  You also could get prospects coming back to your booth to ask further questions.  And who wouldn't want that!

3.  Simplify the process.  Can you make the follow ups be a more automated process?  Perhaps you can drive traffic to your social media channels for up to the minute pictures and videos?  Or email a link to a 'thank you for coming to our booth' landing page that you set up ahead of time, and a quick email to share that page link?  This is the time to think outside the box, and see how things can be simpler for you, and therefore your prospect.  Anything you can do to engage your prospects in a digital space and allow them to interact with each other will help make the process easy and fast.  And let them dictate what information they gather when (on a platform that allows them to come back multiple times).

When you are ready for your next group of trade shows in 2013, be sure to put on your New Year's list the commitment to following up on your leads - and get some of the hurdles out of your own way.

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