Robert Edwards is a Manager of Dynamic Technology Solutions at SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals with over 12 years of experience in high performance, interactive event technology.
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) reported that for 83 percent of trade show exhibitors, a primary goal is to increase sales. Many exhibitors recognize the value participating in trade shows and conferences holds for driving sales. In its The Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation report, CEIR stated that it takes an average 4.5 sales calls to close a sale without an exhibition lead versus 3.5 sales calls with one.
So, why aren’t more exhibitors leveraging leading-edge event technologies to increase their ROI? There is one technology in particular that significantly simplifies lead capture and management while delivering measurable ROI: lead retrieval software.
Overcoming the Obstacles
To gain the greatest value from this solution, exhibitors must first depend on event planners to offer it. Too often, it simply isn’t being offered by planners, who may not fully appreciate its value. When it is an option, exhibitors may simply overlook it after dealing with all of the other event components (booth, carpet, electric, internet, scheduling of freight deliveries, etc.). Then, there is the misconception that 80 percent of trade show leads never get the follow-up attention they need, so some say, why capture them?
If, however, you ask most marketers, this simply isn’t true, as most will work very hard to follow up with any potential lead. The operative words here are “work hard,” which is required when approaching lead retrieval without today’s sophisticated software. Not only is lead retrieval software not costly (another common misconception), it more than pays for itself in terms of the value it delivers. In fact, there are some very savvy event planners who offer lead retrieval software to their VIP sponsors as a “value-add,” which is extremely well-received.
Functions and Features
Lead retrieval software works with multiple devices such as scanners and barcode readers. Using the scanner/reader, exhibitors scan a potential customer’s badge containing a barcode. Additional information is entered “on the fly” regarding the potential of the lead – information which can be edited as needed at a later time. This ensures timely, accurate lead management and gives sales personnel immediate access to valuable information captured by the software such as responses to survey questions, notes taken in the exchange with the prospect, requests for literature or quotes, as well as a lead “score” to help with prioritizing leads.
In addition to integrating with an event planner’s registration system, the software integrates with an exhibitor’s existing CRM program. In this way, the software also helps maximize an organization’s investment in these programs.
Along with their multi-device compatibility, lead retrieval solutions facilitate comprehensive lead data capture and enable users to customize their lead qualification criteria or market surveys to reflect a given event. While the quantity of leads is, of course, important, exhibitors should not neglect ways to better qualify their leads.
For example, to help with “scoring” of leads, exhibitors can use a raffle drawing as one of their lead qualifiers. They can use the software to make a notation of “Scan for Drawing” to later weed out those prospects who were just interested in winning a prize.
Lead retrieval software delivers extensive reporting functionality that allows for reports to be downloaded from any iOS or Android device. Custom reports can be generated and easily distributed in real-time or in PDFs for future distribution. Not only does the software deliver the data needed for optimum lead capture and management, it also gives exhibitors more time to spend with their prospects. After quickly scanning a prospect’s badge, exhibitor staff can focus on discussing their products.
Lead retrieval solutions also save exhibitors time once back in the office. Rather than having to decipher handwritten notes on the back of business cards and use staff resources for data entry, you benefit by being able to seamlessly transfer lead data from the show to your CRM.
Best Practices for Gaining the Greatest ROI from Lead Retrieval Software
Like anything else, to maximize their ROI, exhibitors and event planners should have a clear understanding of their goals. When selecting a lead retrieval solution provider, it’s important that the provider has the ability to customize the scanning device to meet the user’s specific needs. This will help ensure the biggest bang for the dollar. A good question to ask is, “How soon will I have access to the leads?” The best solutions capture and deliver leads quickly so that they can be acted upon in a timely manner.
CEIR estimates that exhibitors spend $24 billion annually at trade shows and conferences. Using lead retrieval software is one of the best ways to achieve their foremost goal of generating leads, while also helping them increase their overall exhibition ROI.
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