Eight Ways to Convert More Trade Show Leads

Trade show exhibitors regularly report two thoughts on trade shows: they know trade shows provide a great opportunity to generate good sales leads, and they know that an in-person experience should provide the best opportunity to connect with those leads.  

But how do you transform a show full of attendees into a flood of sales leads?

Here are Eight Secrets for Generating More Trade Show Leads that Convert:

1). Systematize Everything.  

Most trade show booths have gaps where good prospects are leaking out.  They don’t stop enough traffic, prospects aren’t engaged, lead information isn’t collected.  Good opportunities are missed.  

These gaps can easily be filled by systematizing your trade show booth operation, so prospects are carefully led from the aisle to the lead collection area and from the lead collection area to the sales representatives.  Exhibitors that maintain control of the prospects’ attention throughout their engagement with the booth staff achieve significantly more success than those who leave the prospects’ booth experience to chance. 

2). Embrace a Direct Response Strategy

A direct response strategy focuses on getting people to “raise their hand” and “tell me more."  Rather than simply hoping that people are getting your message at the trade show, direct response tells you exactly who got the message and wants to learn more.  Fundamentally, that’s what prospecting is all about.  

A trade show assembles thousands of people in one place - all you have to do is get their attention, make them an irresistible offer (see #4), and ask them for their contact information so you can deliver.  Your job is to effectively deliver your offer to as many people as possible during the show.

3)  Get A Crowd’s Attention

Do you know what a good direct response copywriter thinks of first when writing an email? The subject line:  he knows if he write a bad subject line, the message won’t be opened, much less read.  

Your booth has to engage aisle prospects and make them stop.  Until prospects agree to focus their attention on you, you cannot tell them the outcome they get by working with you.

You must actively engage aisle traffic and capture attention.  Other booths, other people, games, flashing lights, equipment demonstrations, and the almighty mobile phone will pull them away.  Using a dedicated booth attraction or crowd builder ensures you get crowds of people paying attention to your booth (and crowds themselves, in fact, attract even bigger crowds).  

4) Make an Offer: Lead Collection Must be an Opt-In 

If you’re going to make sure that you convert your trade show leads, you need to get your ideal trade show prospects to commit to a next step.  That could be a high threshold offer like scheduling a on-site consultation or telephone conversation, or it could also be a very low threshold offer like a special report.  

You must collect their information so you can continue to follow up with them after the show, and you must do it in a way that makes them look forward to your next call, message, or mail piece.

5) Make Prospects Anticipate Follow Up

The reason most trade show leads don’t convert is because they aren’t positioned for the follow up calls and emails properly.  When people leave a business card in your hopper or scan their badge to win and iPad, the only call they want is, “Bob, you won the iPad.”  

However, if you embrace a direct response strategy and tell them that the next step will be an information product, a telephone call, or an in-person consultation, the prospect knows what’s going to happen and can anticipate it.  They want the information, so they look forward to the email or direct mail package.  They implicitly agree to open it.  They agree to take the phone call or the in-person visit when they give you their contact information.

6) Make Your Booth Experience Memorable

If your prospect doesn’t remember your booth, they won’t know enough about you to take your call or open your email.  Your booth must stand out among the thousands of other booths they’ll see at the show.  An entertaining live demonstration, or something unique like a magician, a race car, a game, or a very special giveaway will help make the experience stand-out in their minds.  

Your follow-up calls and emails should reference the booth experience in some way, so you can be sure to jog their memory.

7)  Follow Through with Automation

Surveys have revealed that up to 90% of trade show leads are never followed up on, and statistics show that salesmen only make a single follow up dial to a trade show prospect.  

Automation has to be part of your process.  Follow up via email is perfect because you can use tracking software to determine who opened your emails, who downloaded your reports, and who is interacting with your company.  

Prioritize these people for follow up calls and schedule discovery sessions. These people want to hear from you.  Don’t let them down.

8) Keep everyone else in your funnel until they convert or leave.

A traditional belly-to-belly trade show prospecting strategy is a “one and done” experience.  The prospect either agrees to the follow up call or they’re out of the system until next year.  

Research shows that about 30% of the leads who convert will do so in the first 90 days after the trade show.  That leaves 70% who will remain active in your funnel for twelve months after the show.  To complete these sales faster and more reliably, you have to keep in touch and keep following up. 

By getting people into your direct response funnel, you can keep in touch with them all year long.  You can even invite them back to the booth next year to see your latest innovations and restart the interpersonal component of your marketing strategy.

It Works Like Magic

Turning trade show leads into sales prospects is a very simple, straightforward process.  It isn’t always easy, but the effort required pays off every time.  

Mike Duseberg is dedicated to helping exhibitors connect with more qualified prospects.  He is fascinated by measurable, accountable, and profitable trade show marketing.  You can download his new guide to trade show marketing - The Little Booklet that Transforms Your Trade Show Booth into a Lead Generating Machine - at TradeShowFunnel.com