Having a booth at tradeshows, expos and conferences can be a great way to develop leads, if it is done right. Companies of all sizes, in all stages of their growth spend thousands of dollars on tradeshows and often get disappointing results. Exhibiting at events can be a good source of leads, but it can be very expensive, and if you are not ready, they can hurt your business more than help. If you have had disappointing results, you are not alone.
In a new eBook written by Alice Heiman and RingLead, you’ll learn the process to improve your results… and it all starts with planning.
There are three core phases necessary for tradeshow success.
Phase One: Before the Event
Before you exhibit, you need to select the right events. Start by researching and making a spreadsheet of events that attract your ideal prospects. Gather all of the information about each tradeshow on that sheet, such as cost, date and time, what the exhibit booth includes, etc. Then decide which events will best meet your goals.
Upon determining which events to attend, It’s important to add the dates to your calendar, including the travel dates, and then schedule all of your planning meetings. Start preparing eight weeks in advance of each conference.
Set the goals for the show. What do you plan to accomplish? You’ve already determined that it is important to your business to exhibit at this show.
• Who do you need to meet with?
• How many leads do you need to collect?
• How many visitors will visit your booth?
• How many other exhibitors will you meet?
• How many sales should result from exhibiting? • What will you do at the booth?
You might choose to measure number of booth visits, qualified leads for follow up, and number of total contacts.
Phase Two: During the Event
If you’ve planned and prepared your event efforts ahead of time, attracting people to your booth should be easy. Once people are in your booth, ask good questions and learn about the prospect. Develop as much of a relationship with them as you can in the short time you have. Get to a point where they will take your call after the tradeshow. You can make appointments at the show, but if you don’t build a good relationship or you are pushy, the person will not be interested when you follow up. Ask the right questions that get the prospect talking about their problems as they relate to the type of solution you provide.
During the show, connect to your hot leads via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other media used at the event. When making a request to connect, always remind the prospect where you met and include specific topics from the conversation. Be careful using LinkedIn on your mobile device as it doesn’t let you send a message with your connection request. It’s better to use their website than their app in this case.
If you’ve built a Twitter list, make sure you interact during the event by retweeting, favoriting and conversing. Almost every event has a hashtag that you can follow. Using the hashtag in your tweets helps your company gain visibility.
Phase Three: After the Event
Oftentimes, more than half of the contacts that are made at a show are wasted because salespeople don’t follow up, and marketing doesn’t have a plan to stay in front of them. Everything you have done up to this point will not necessarily get you a sale. It’s what you do after the show, when you get back to your office, where you start getting results. While you likely won’t close sales instantly after the show, you can gauge the results of the event by number of booth visits, qualified leads for follow up, and number of total contacts.
You’re gathering contact information from event-goers throughout the show. Whether it’s business cards or badge scanning devices, your booth helps you develop a list of great leads. After you leave the conference, you’ll have a nice list of leads in hand. However, importing of mass lists is a very common cause of duplicate records. In addition, the leads may come in various forms, from excel files to direct imports into your CRM. Nothing will undermine or torpedo your revenue like bad data.
Prevent bad data by using helpful importing applications, such as Unique Upload, to simultaneously prevent the creation of duplicate records while uploading lists into your CRM, such as Salesforce. Applications like these can clean the lists — whether they’re Excel files or other formats — before you import them. Powerful options allow you to control what happens when duplicates or related records are found.
Schedule time on your calendar for the follow up. Give hot prospects a day to get back to their office and then call them. Create a lead nurturing campaign for the new contacts that are not hot leads. Start the campaign as soon as the event is over. Connect with all of the qualified prospects via social media and send a follow up email or mailing. Send a “nice to see you at the show” message with a link to a relevant whitepaper, article, or some other useful piece of information to show your value before you try to sell. If you have a special offer as part of the show,remind them that there’s still time to take part,and note the expiration date. No matter the message or how you reach out, it must be planned. Don’t just put them on your mailing list and spam them. Don’t give up. People are busy and purchasing your product may not be their top priority.
Learn more about exhibiting at tradeshows with the free ebook below.