Ryan Schefke is a dynamic presenter, results-oriented leader and hands-on Founder of Lead Liaison, provider of event lead management software. Ryan is passionate about helping companies succeed in the marketing event space.
If you’re new to exhibiting and unfamiliar with the different lead retrieval solutions on the market today, you might be tempted to rent the system provided by the trade show instead of purchasing your own. While that may seem like the simplest and most convenient option, you might not realize how this path of least resistance could end up negatively impacting your ability to capture quality leads – and your bottom line.
Let’s examine some of the pitfalls of renting a show-provided lead retrieval system and why purchasing an independent solution is your best bet.
These days, show-provided lead capture systems come in the form of a badge scanner or a mobile app, with more and more shows leaning toward the latter.
Since these systems are used by multiple exhibitors at a time, they’re typically one-size-fits-all solutions that don’t allow for much, if any, customization. Instead of being able to provide attendees with strategic, targeted questions specific to what your company needs, you’ll only be able to access basic attendee information, such as name, email address and job title.
However, when you purchase your own lead management solution, you’ll have the freedom to customize lead capture forms and take advantage of a myriad of features to enhance the overall booth experience and convert leads into sales. Plus, you’ll be creating a customized and repeatable process that you can execute from trade show to trade show. Try accomplishing that with a generic lead system!
So maybe the show’s system isn’t perfect, but it’s got to be cheaper than buying an independent solution, right? While on the surface this may seem true, keep in mind that the costs of renting the show-provided system can sneak up on you if you’re not careful.
For example, obtaining a user license for a show-provided mobile app can cost, on average, around $390 per user according to our research. But, if you’re like most exhibiting companies, you’ll have a team of sales representatives at the show who will each need access to their own badge scanner. That will either cause your lead capture rental costs to skyrocket from a few hundred to several thousand dollars – for just one show – or your reps will end up sharing scanners. This could not only result in lost leads but also potential business opportunities. And how do you put a cost on that?
Even if the trade show is using a lead retrieval app, they’re still not as cost-effective as owning one because you’re being charged on a per-use basis, again with little customization capabilities.
Look for an independent lead capture solution that doesn’t charge per user. That way, regardless of the show's size, you’ll never be limited to how many booth representatives can collect leads at one time. Sure, the cost of ownership will look like a lot initially, but when you do the math, you’ll find that you’ll still save money overall with a lower total cost of ownership. Use this Trade Show ROI Calculator to get an estimate based on your company’s event participation data.
Another problem with renting, especially if you’re exhibiting at multiple shows throughout the year, is the lack of consistency between the systems and the challenges that can pose for your sales teams. For example, Show A may offer a mobile app, then at Show B, a badge scanner with a different lead retrieval company, and then at Show C, another mobile app from a different supplier.
Besides being confusing for you and your staff, it’s also frustrating to have to retrain your booth representatives every time they encounter another system they haven’t used before. This is the hidden reality that comes with renting a system: wasting time (and ultimately, money) training employees when they could be focused on gathering quality leads.
When you use your own lead capture system, you’ll enjoy a much more efficient and consistent experience for both you and your staff, who can learn to use one common interface to its maximum potential. Your sales reps will be able to ask the right questions and collect the most accurate information, providing your marketing department with everything they need to follow-up properly.
While you will have to pay for access to the show’s Developer’s Kit or API (Application Programming Interface) when using an independent lead capture system, this will be your only tie to the show-appointed lead retrieval company. That’s why working with a provider that supports this part of the process is key. Once API access is granted, you’ll be free to use as many tablets and smartphones for scanning and collecting leads as you wish!
While purchasing a lead solution may seem like a big investment on the front end, it actually ends up saving you money in the long-term, especially if your company exhibits at multiple events throughout the year. Factor in the cost per event for renting versus owning, times that amount by the number of trade shows you exhibit in, and you’ll see that once you get down to the nitty-gritty of dollars and cents, owning is actually the most cost-effective option.
Studies have shown that approximately 35-50 percent of people tend to do business with the company that responds to them first. If you’re one of several exhibitors offering similar solutions, how quickly you follow-up on a hot lead can mean the difference between landing a new customer or being left in the dust by your competitors.
Trade shows are highly competitive environments. Why would you choose a generic lead retrieval system that could drag out your response time and reduce your odds of success? Find an independent lead capture solution that syncs with your existing technology within seconds, or that supports instant, automated follow-up within its own platform. And then watch those hot leads turn into big, fat sales!
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