Trade shows are a great opportunity to get your brand and products in front of new potential customers, but what happens when the show is over?
Hot leads? You probably have a pretty good (and immediate) system for those. But what about the warm leads? Do you have a follow up plan? Are you getting a return on your leads that outweighs your trade show investment?
Here is a common trade show warm lead follow up “plan.” See if this sounds familiar.
- A flurry of attention is given to hot leads: quotes, orders, etc.
- The remaining warm leads (a pile of business cards) are handed off to the sales team.
- The sales team calls the leads and uses a generic script.
- The sales team follows up with a standard email.
- Prospects fail to progress.
If your post-show lead cultivation is letting warm leads grow cold, you’re leaving money on the table, and you need a plan.
You’ve Got the Leads. Now Get the Sales.
When you put the time and money into attending a trade show, you should get the most out of every lead. By nature, warm leads from trade shows are highly qualified leads. They are collected from a population of people who have already demonstrated high interest in your product or industry, and they are the influencers and decisionmakers. They may not be buying today, but clearly you have something they want. How will you keep your business top of mind over the long haul until they are ready?
Leads are not business cards. Leads are people—people who have needs to serve and problems to solve. To maintain that brief but important connection you made at the show, you need to let your prospects know you were listening and that you understand what they need and the challenges they need to overcome. Show them you’re listening, not just dropping phone numbers into a database. Here are some guidelines to get you started.
- Know before the show. Decide how warm leads will be handled in advance, including how often you’ll follow up and when the warm leads will go into automated cultivation such as an email program. Ideally these decisions should be made by both your sales team and your marketing team. When these two groups collaborate, the marketing team can more effectively cultivate the lead until it is ready to be turned over to the salesperson. This ensures hot and warm leads both get the attention they need, and all you have to do is stick to the plan.
- Humanize the leads. Take the time to sort your leads into roles, responsibilities, and pain points and record any specific details you recall from your contact so the content of your follow up is both personal and relevant.
- Never use a standard script. Your warm leads are already familiar with your company, so approaching them with information they already know or that is not relevant is an immediate disconnect. Instead, use the follow-up call as an opportunity to provide targeted information to your prospects and demonstrate that you understand the unique needs of their role or industry. Also, ensure you are gathering information relevant to your sales goals, and use that information to move prospects further into your funnel. If your in-house calling resources are limited, consider engaging a calling partner to help. A calling partner can keep the attention on your warm leads long enough to see them to fruition, which can be as long as 12 to 18 months.
- Continue to cultivate your leads with customized content. Support your calling program with email or direct mail that delivers useful, targeted content and link to landing pages that capture the data that can help you convert the lead into the sale. Each point of contact is an opportunity to gather information about what your prospect needs. Use that information to continually customize your content and get the most out of every interaction.
You can cultivate every trade show lead, but you need a plan that does more than jump on the hot leads only to let the warm leads cool off. Lead cultivation is a long-term commitment, sometimes as long as 12 to 18 months, which is why it requires more than a one-time, generic follow-up call or email. If you want to get more out of your trade show leads, you need a plan, and we can help.
To learn more, contact Gary Peterson by email or call him at 717-823-6939 and ask about a Post-Show Lead Cultivation Audit.