Sofia Troutman is the Senior Digital Marketing and Product Innovation Manager for Skyline Exhibits. Sofia heads up Skyline’s marketing efforts in new product development and management, lead generation, exhibitor education, industry relations and market research.
7 Steps to Improving Lead Management and Follow Up
It’s hard to believe, but there are times that as a client you really want to be contacted by a salesperson. In fact, many trade show attendees will often go to a show in hopes of finding relevant products that can make their lives easier or help them to better serve their clients. What they don’t want is to take too much time having to read through irrelevant information in order to get what they need. Worse, attendees don’t want to have to wait too long to get the information or phone call they were promised.
That is where good lead management comes in. When you have done your homework to find out who the client is, asked the right questions, and recorded and analyzed the answers, you can ensure that that relevant information gets to someone who can help that client in a timely manner.
We all agree that collecting qualified leads is often the primary exhibiting objectives. Unfortunately, sometimes these leads are not properly qualified, classified, or contacted. Statistics show that over 60% of exhibitors still rely on business cards as a way to gather lead information (Exhibitor Article by Travis Stanton – The Myths of Lead Management).
While there is nothing wrong with a business card as a supplementary, and undeniably convenient way to gather potential client information, it is insufficient at best. Business cards can be lost, outdated and most importantly do not have enough information, or room to record pertinent client data, to properly follow up on a lead.
A lead at a show may be the first opportunity your company has to begin a positive customer relationship. If the information you provide to sales is limited to just a name, email and a phone number, then you are limiting their ability to make a positive connection.
Here are 7 steps you can take to help your sales or marketing team make the most of the leads gathered at the show:
1. Start gathering information before the show – If you take the time to send out a pre-show promotion to clients attending the show you can use that as a way to ask your prospective clients two or three questions regarding their needs. Make filling out those questions a pre-requisite for a giveaway or raffle at the show.
2. Link lead information to your corporate Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). This way it is easy for your sales representatives or marketing to find out more information about the client and to record additional information they may discover when they follow up.
3. Let your sales teams know you will be checking up on results from leads assigned to them. This way they will be motivated to follow up on them before you contact them. You may want to send them an email reminder before you call them so they have an opportunity to ensure they will have something to share when you do follow up.
4. Set ROI (return on investment) expectations about how these leads will be measured. Do you expect 1 of 10 leads to convert? Is your conversion rate closer to 20% – 30%? How do you define conversion? Is a quote request sufficient or will a sale need to close before you count it? What time period are you evaluating? The time period will have to take into account your sales cycle. How long does it typically take from an inquiry to a sale?
5. Dedicate one person or team to distribute leads to the appropriate departments and to manage tracking and ROI calculation. Ideally this same group should be the one responsible for the trade show budget.
6. Follow up quickly. An email or phone call by someone qualified to help the client should happen in less than two weeks. The longer you wait to follow up, the more likely the prospect will be to start working with a competitor or find another solution to their problem or use for their budget.
7. Leverage technology for lead capturing. By using either the shows’ badge scanner or lead capturing application, you may save time recording contact information after the show and be better prepared to follow up with potential clients faster. One advantage to tablet or phone lead capturing applications is that you can take notes and record comments from your conversation directly into the client’s information that you just scanned. You can also reach out to the client immediately by attaching pdfs of brochures or information that they requested, and copy the salesperson simultaneously.
While taking all these steps may not guarantee a sale it will ensure your staff has a better opportunity for proper lead management and follow up and an opportunity to create a lasting business relationship.