September 26, 2017 – While there are several ways you can profit from a trade show and display, the follow up sales you can potentially receive can be very significant. A trade show really doesn’t end just because your booth is packed up and you’re back in the office. That’s just Phase 1.  Phase 2 is trying to make the most of the leads you’ve cultivated, turning them into the sales which will justify the entire costly venture.

Proper follow up will make or break a trade show’s ROI, so let’s talk about some best practices that need to be followed.

Eight Best Practices When Following Up on Leads after a Trade Show

  1. Set up a special spreadsheet.

Trade show leads are special cases, in a number of ways, so it’s generally best not to simply toss them in with your existing leads – at least not at first.  Let them “graduate” to the main database based on their actions. Make a spreadsheet specifically for the leads, listing key info like their names, contact information, title, company, etc. Leave room for your sales team or whoever is doing the follow-up to make notes on whether they seem like they’ll be viable leads in the future.

  1. Always act fast.

No matter how you choose to follow up, or what other techniques you use, you should always make contact with your leads as quickly as possible. Ideally, this should be within 24 hours, and certainly not more than 48 hours unless there’s a weekend or holiday involved.

(If the trade show ends on Saturday, let them sleep it off on Sunday.)

  1. Contact via the first method they list.

This is just a little psychological trick. If a respondent has the option to list multiple forms of contact (email, phone, social, etc.) the one they list or mention first is almost always their preferred form of contact.

  1. Don’t push too hard.

It’s extremely difficult for a Sales Team to know how well-qualified (or not) a trade show lead is, based simply on the fact that they showed up and asked for information. Ideally, your follow up messaging should be aimed at getting them to take any action whatsoever.  Don’t push for a sale; if they engage at all afterwards – even just watching videos on your website – it’s still a win for the trade show effort.

As a corollary:

  1. Include multiple options for engagement in your follow-up.

Most of the time when you’re sending a promotional email, the rule of thumb is to have one core message linked to one specific CTA or suggested action. Trade show follow-up emails can ignore that rule. Include plenty of links and options for them to make contact with you.  Again, any further engagement is a good thing, no matter how small. It’s still vastly better than being forgotten\ignored.

  1. Be as specific as possible in your follow-up emails.

Trying to “get away” with using a boilerplate email for all your leads is a good way to be ignored. At the least, be sure to specify the trade show by name in both the subject and the first paragraph.  If you really want to impress, include some specific personalized details from that lead’s conversation with you and\or your staff at the booth.

It’s generally a good idea to -discretely- take notes during or after your trade show conversations, specifically so that you can add personalized details in these messages.

  1. Share with them on social media.

If you’ve gotten one or more of their social handles, that’s excellent. You’ve got a good two-way street for getting more communication going.  By all means, suggest a few pieces of content they might be interested in. Howeverremember that social media is always a two-way street. Share out some of their own content, or leave constructive non-promotional comments that add to a discussion that’s going on. That can often do a lot to endear you to them.

  1. Don’t forget face time.

If the trade show was local\regional, don’t overlook the possibility of setting up a lunch or other face-to-face meeting. You might not want to offer this to every lead, but if there were a few that seemed particularly promising, don’t just email. Phone their secretary to set up a meeting.

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