After attending a trade show, and collecting a bunch of leads, what you do with those leads next determines if those efforts are a boon or bust for your small business. Networking at trade shows is only worthwhile when you have a solid lead collection and follow up system in place. Here’s what to do to ensure those leads don’t become as useless as a soggy bannock.
Organize and Streamline Your Lead Collection
Putting in place a lean, mean, lead-collecting machine should be a top priority for your management team. The quality of leads you collect at trade shows reflects directly on your B2B lead-collection system. Work in tandem with your sales staff to find out what information your salespeople need in order to close deals. Why ask them? A crack sales team needs in-depth information so they’re not wasting time figuring out which prospects are ready to buy.
Consider creating an easy-to-fill-out lead form that reveals more about each prospect. Your lead form (paper or digital) should include a series of multiple choice questions. These questions help your sales staff separate leads into hot, warm, and lukewarm categories. Leave enough space for prospects to add personal information that further qualifies them as potential buyers. Implement this strategy and watch lead quality soar.
If you prefer keeping things simpler, you can collect names and emails from your prospects and build a valuable B2B mailing list.
How Long Should I Wait to Follow Up?
Time is of the essence when it comes to following up on trade show leads. Generally, the longer you wait to make contact, the colder those leads grow. Still, all leads are not the same, which is why your sales staff should set up a lead contact system with specific time periods for contacting each lead category.
- A Group Red Hot Leads. These are prospects who expressed great interest in your products and there’s a high probability of making sales with this group. Make contact by phone and email within 3-5 days, and send them company literature.
- B Group Warm Leads. These are mildly interested prospects who require months of relationship building before they may turn into buyers. Within five days, send them a personalized email. Calling and mailing literature is optional.
- C Group Lukewarm Leads. These are prospects who may or may not be interested in buying anything from you. Perhaps they entered a giveaway promotion. Follow up can take longer than a week. A few of these prospects may express buyer interest after hearing from you, and you can bump them into the A or B group.
Follow Up by Phone
Calling prospects directly is a great way to establish a more personal relationship with your prospects. During phone calls, your sales team can ask additional questions, find out more about what problems you can help solve for their company, and resolve doubts and objections right on the spot. On the flip side, it’s hard to reach some busy people by phone so your staff may be leaving lots of voice mail messages. If so, messages should be short and clear.
Follow Up by Email
Email is one of the most effective marketing tools for small businesses. Even so, you should develop a finely-tuned email messaging strategy to make sure your emails get opened and read. Half the battle is getting their attention, and captivating email subject lines are key to achieving good open rates. Keep messages short and to the point. Provide links to your website so prospects can read more about your awesome products, and do their own research about your company. If prospects have a LinkedIn profile, use its communication tools to send messages.
Save time by using this trade show follow up email template. It’s easy to customize.
Personalize Each Message
Are you about to send out a mass email message to all your leads? Stop! It may be easier to compose one message for everyone and press send, but that won’t impress your prospects. Instead, make full use of all that juicy information on your lead forms and use it to create personalized messages that resonate with each contact. Including tidbits about their company reminds them of who you are, and why you’re contacting them. Plus, you’ll score brownie points for being a friendly, professional company who has something of value to offer.
Use a Strong, Specific Call to Action
A call to action is a phrase inserted somewhere within a phone call or email message that prompts the prospect to take immediate action. All contact with leads should include a strong call to action that’s very specific. "Buy now" and "Click here for more information" are examples of common action phrases. The call to action encourages prospects to set appointments or to take advantage of a special sales offer.
Although, you can use more than one call to action for each message, it’s best to stick with one to avoid overwhelming prospects with too many options.
Become a Social Media Fan
Establishing a great lead follow up relationship with prospects isn’t a one-way street. Show your interest in them by following their social media accounts. Go a step further and give them some likes, and perhaps, comment on some of their posts. Over time, these friendly online interactions have the power to turn your best leads into regular buyers, increasing sales and profits.
Get a better return on your trade show investment by setting up a savvy lead follow up system in partnership with your sales team.