If you’ve done your research and chosen the right exhibition to attend, you’ll be surrounded by plenty of potential customers and leads. Exhibiting is an investment that can reap rewards long into the future.
In order to maximise the return on your investment of exhibiting, you need to coherently and strategically follow up leads after the event is over.
According to a 2010 Unisfair Marketing Survey, generating leads is the top priority of 68% of marketers, followed by customer retention and brand awareness. That dedication to lead generation, however, is irrelevant if those leads are not correctly collected and most importantly followed up.
Here at XL Displays, we know the importance of effective follow-up and the huge benefits it can bring so here are some top tips on how to follow up after an exhibition:
1. Determine the best method of capturing visitor information
Before the show, determine which way is the best to capture potential lead information. Think about the type of people attending and what they are used to.
Exhibitions are evolving with technology and many now have QR coded badges and QR scanners which allow visitors and exhibitors to exchange information throughout the event without the need to carry literature around with them. Hiring the QR scanner from an event could be a worthwhile investment if you’re expecting a large footfall at a more impersonal event.
However, some more traditional events, where exhibitors connect with visitors in more depth, do not facilitate QR badges and scanners so you may be required to take a more manual data input method – for example, a spreadsheet or company database.
2. Gather all new contacts and potential leads into an organised format
Whether it be business cards, QR badge data, post it notes from visitors who forgot their business cards or other random notes from the commotion of exhibitions, it is important to store this information in an organised way.
Once the craziness of the event is over and you’re back in the office, compile the contacts your team collected and process all the information into a simple, easy to read a spreadsheet with some simple column headings:
- Contact Name
- Role Title
- Enquiry Information/Notes
3. Segment leads based on urgency or “Hot Leads” and “Cold Leads”
Using spreadsheets, different documents or simple lists, organise the leads into some sort of urgency list or ‘temperature’.
Segmenting leads into ‘hot’, ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ gives you the opportunity to create a unique follow up a plan of action for each segment and allows your sales team to see whom to contact first.
4. Assign an account manager to each segment of leads
Assigning a salesperson is vital in managing leads and it is very important this is done as quickly as possible. You don’t want to lose leads and potential deals to competitors.
Your sales team might have varying areas of expertise and skill so assign ‘hot’ leads to those used to high pressured and quick turnaround sales and ‘cold’ leads to those who can build a very good rapport with people to build brand awareness and potential future customers.
5. Design a follow-up plan for each group
Prepare a standard letter or email in advance of the event, which suits most enquiries, thanking them for visiting your stand that day and promising that a named individual will contact them within the agreed timescale.
Research shows that 72% of consumers are frustrated with generic marketing and that consumers are 4 times more likely to respond if the content is personalised. This is a key point to remember when sending a ‘Thank you for attending’ email. Small touches like adding a name or adding notes from the show into the initial follow up email can go a long way in terms of building customer relationships and closing deals.
Hot leads need to be followed up within three or four days of the event to prevent competitors from stealing the deal. Initial rapport would have been established at the show so this gives a good basis to turn a hot lead into a sale.
Warm and cold leads can wait but an acknowledgement for their attendance to your stand or commitment to the next step should also be agreed within those post-event days. The month after the exhibition is prime time for converting warm leads into a sale. If they handed over their business card or contact information it means they are likely to still remember you which leaves a basis to make contact and connect.
Don’t expect too much straight after an event. It’s common knowledge that in B2B environments, up to 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy when they first enquire about your business but about 75% of these leads will become sales-ready within 12 to 18 months.
Patience and reinforced marketing are key when following up. Send marketing emails and company newsletters to warm and cold leads post exhibition in the hope they know where to go when needing something that your business can offer.
Research suggests that we should be prepared to follow up six times before a lead converts - an email, a phone call, an appointment and a follow-up call perhaps.
At XL Displays we are experts in exhibition stands and portable display equipment. For advice and more information on how we can help you get the best stand for your exhibition or event please Contact Us or call us on 01733 511030.