Generating trade show leads
The end of the year is a great time to reflect on a year’s worth of hard work and efforts. Many of us have invested a significant amount of time and money on trade shows and that should not go by the wayside. After all, let’s face it; trade show lead generation isn’t easy. Now is the time to make one additional effort to ensure those hard-to-get sales leads don’t pass you by.Think of lead generation in terms of a triangle where the first point represents trade show preparations, the second point depicts working the trade show and the third, and perhaps most important of the three points, is follow-up. The triangle can’t connect if any of the three points are missing but unfortunately, the statistics show that 80% of trade show leads slip by without any post-show follow-up. Those are a lot of triangles, waiting in limbo, unconnected. In fact, one company specializing in the manufacture and rental of trade show displays reported that an astonishing 50% of the crates they rent to exhibitors are returned to them with the leads still inside; never even been taken back to the office. What a waste!As the New Year approaches, resolve to put in one last call (or first call) to those leads you worked so hard to acquire. Keep reading to find out more.

Categorize
A mound of unorganized leads can intimidate just about anyone, which is why so many go untouched. It may help to categorize sales leads by how “hot” or how far along in the sales pipeline they are and then determine the type of follow-up each category will receive.

For instance, your hottest leads or “A” category may go directly to sales for a personal phone or in-person sales call. A nice holiday gift like a set of steak knives or a bottle of wine packaged in a logo-imprinted bottle bag may help you get your foot in the door, or at the very least, leave a lasting impression.

Next in line are your “B” leads which should be added to your e-mail list and get a second type of follow-up like a letter, personalized e-mail or phone call. A holiday card and/or calendar are great ways to say, “Here’s to a great year and an even better New Year.” Don’t forget to include important announcements, new product offerings and a mention of what trade shows you plan on attending next year. Include stickers imprinted with trade show dates and times that prospects can use to mark their calendars.

And finally, don’t forget to keep your “C” category of leads in the loop by adding them to your e-mail list. Let marketing nurture these leads until they move into a “B” or “A” position.

Personalize
Most sales people have a knack for remembering certain details about an interaction with a client or lead. Put this skill to good use and personalize your follow-up communications. Consider writing a quick personal message on a branded Post-it® and attaching it to sales materials for leads. When reopening negotiations, mention where you met and how to get in contact with you. Discuss any challenges a prospect may have discussed with you and how your company can help.

Track your efforts
Tracking your efforts is as important as connecting. Knowing what works well and what doesn’t can better help you plan your efforts for next year. Don’t be afraid to ask your clients’ their opinions of how you can better connect with them.

In 2013, make it your resolution to follow-up. Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right.

Sweeney, Jim. “4 Steps to Effective Trade Show Follow Up.” Web log post. Big Daddy Marketing. N.p., 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 07 Sept. 2012.

Another Chance for Us to Get It Right.Inquirer Lifestyle. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Sept. 2012.

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