What Everybody Ought to Know About Lead Retrieval and Zip Zaps

June 22, 2013

Let’s talk knuckle busters, zip zaps, and scanners - because I speak your language.

Event organizers, registration contractors and purveyors of lead recording hardware and software bandy about the term “lead retrieval.” But for the most part the people who actually use these systems - the trade show exhibitors - well, they do not.

They haven’t heard the term.

If someone called you up on the phone, trying to interest you in a “brougham,” would you know they were referring to an automobile? I sure wouldn't.

In the credit card business, I manufacture the rarely-seen-but-still-used-for-emergencies device that we call a “credit card imprinter.” Our customers don’t know what the heck we are talking about. Even when credit card imprinters were ubiquitous, no one but the manufacturers and their distributors used the term. To the merchants that used them, the device was known as a “credit card machine,” a “zip-zap machine,” or my favorite, the “knuckle buster.”

But back to “lead retrieval.” End-users don’t use and rarely recognize the term. Many refer to “scanners.” And, of course, these days, exhibitors don’t always scan a badge to acquire data. And here’s the pitfall for many exhibitors: they confuse scanning a badge with collecting pertinent sales lead information. All that good data, going uncollected… untapped.

A very smart CEO of my acquaintance once told me that his company’s criteria for deciding whether or not a show is worth a return visit is the number of leads they collect. And who hasn't experienced the exhibitor that scans everything that moves? If your dog accompanied you to a show, there are exhibitors that would attempt to scan Fido. What are these folks thinking? Is it about bragging rights? “This year we got 973 leads!” Did the fact that you were giving away an iPad every 20 minutes have any bearing on the number of “leads” you got? Could be.

The term “lead retrieval” does not reflect the worth of the process. The thought that lead quantity is as important as lead quality is wrong-headed. You don’t exhibit at a trade show to retrieve leads. You are there to interact with attendees, to identify which attendees are prospects or influencers, and to record pertinent data about those people. Once you have done that, you want to be able to respond to and nurture their interests.

To accomplish this you need to be willing to invest a combination of time and money in a system that will justify your trade show investment. The system you choose will depend on how much information you want to record, the number of leads you expect to record, the speed with which you want to respond to your leads, and the optimum combination of time and money that will achieve your desired results.

Lead retrieval is a waste of money:

  1. If you haven’t the time or money to follow up the leads you acquire, don’t exhibit.
  1. If you have an enormous amount of free time and expect only a handful of leads, business cards will likely suffice.

However, if your leads, your time, and your money are precious, invest a fraction of your overall trade show budget in electronic lead tracking.

Get the most out of lead retrieval by following these tips:

Here are four key ways electronic lead tracking will preserve and protect your leads, enable swift follow-up and reduce the cost of nurturing those invaluable leads:

  1. Using features like drop-down menus and voice-to-text data entry, you will be able to do a superb job of lead qualification.
  1. With business cards, data, some of it in the form of handwritten notes, must be entered into your computer database. Aside from the time involved, there is the inevitable problem of errors. Doesn’t happen with electronic lead tracking.
  1. Everything is automatically backed up in the cloud. Nothing gets lost, Information is easily shared.
  1. Your leads can be exported to a marketing automation system for lead nurturing.

What are the downsides of electronic lead tracking? There are a vast number of systems from which to choose. Select the one that is right for you and there is no downside.

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