How to Generate Trade Show Leads Profitably

Antti RikkinenZero Keyboard

A trade show is an excellent opportunity for meeting people, checking up on your competition – and generating sales leads for new business. But, how can you get the most bang for your buck and qualify trade show leads that are genuinely profitable?

In this post, we’ll quickly explain how to capture quality trade show leads and how to follow up on leads efficiently.

The art of lead qualification at trade shows

Here’s the great news: trade show attendees are looking to buy. According to CEIR’s The Role and Value of Face to Face studies, 92% of trade show attendees are looking for new products. What’s more, according to CEIR, 46% of attendees are executives or upper management. So, there’s plenty of quality catch in the sea.

But, with limited time and resources, who are the prospects you should talk to?

Keep in mind that lead quality always trumps lead quantity. In fact, if you end up with high volumes of low-quality leads, you will end up hurting your business.
The secret to lead qualification is asking the right questions.

Open-end questions like “Which issues are holding you back from meeting your goals this year?” or “In your own opinion, which aspects of your process X are the most painful?” give you insights on your prospect’s pain points and how your solution could help them succeed.

Carefully selected questions are a great way to get a conversation going. Be sure to arm your floor staff with a well-thought-out, structured set of questions.

How to capture trade show leads?

OK, so you are engaging quality people in a mutually beneficial conversation. How can you ensure that the dialogue continues all the way to a business deal?

According to Statista, 19% of trade show exhibitors say that up to 10% of leads ultimately convert to sales. However, a staggering 50% of exhibitors do not know how the leads convert to business. That is a huge gray area – and a clear indication that the lead trail from face-to-face contact to a digital CRM clearly is not working for many organizations.

So, here’s where technology jumps in by making sure your leads actually get in your sales pipeline. Everyone hates filling in paper or digital forms, so capture the bare essentials – such as contact details – with a business card scanner or scanning their attendee badge.

What makes the difference, however, is recording the specifics of the conversation you have with your future customer. Make sure you record these notes immediately – these are the important details that you will inevitably forget in a flash.

How to follow up on trade show leads?

Salespeople know that it takes several interactions with a prospective client before a deal is actually closed. A quality chat on the trade show floor is definitely a good start, but it is only the first step in the process.

After the event, the biggest mistake you can make is not following up on your lead fairly soon. So, make sure you have a process for reaching out to people you have talked to.

A quick, initial interaction could include connecting on social media or sending a short email and a promise to get back to the discussion within a few days, for example.

For maximum efficiency, automate everything you can. When you have the customer data in your CRM, reaching out with a short message should not require any effort from you.

In summary, you get the best ROI for trade shows by focusing on quality conversations with the right people and by making sure that the conversation continues also after the event.