The number one reason businesses attend exhibitions is to generate new sales leads, with some careful planning and team-work you can boost the number of leads you are generating at exhibitions without having to spend much more of your budget.
Planning is arguably more important than the exhibition itself. You should first analyse who your target audience is so you can more effectively brand your exhibition stand and know who to approach. Your target audience isn’t necessarily the same as the audience for your business as a whole, are you trying to launch a new product or push an old one? Your products may each have a different target audience.
When your target audience is decided upon then you can move on to setting your objectives which should be SMART:
If you set objectives in this manner then you are more likely to achieve these goals. For example “Generate 50 new qualified sales leads at large companies within the exhibition period” is a much better objective than “Generate 50 new sales leads”.
Your team working the exhibition stand should be properly trained and prepared, exhibitions are the perfect way to connect face to face with prospects so your staff need to understand the goals of the exhibition just as much as the senior staff. Make sure the staff understand potential questions they may receive and an example of your target audience so they know who to strike up a conversation with.
Assuming you have a mailing list, it can be a good idea to send out an email letting your contacts and customers know that you are attending an upcoming event and even inviting them to come visit you there. You can add more appeal to this email by including something exciting, for example you may have a new product launching and a prototype will be at the event.
Another way to bring more people in to your stand is to offer incentives such as giveaways and competitions – this can be anything from branded pens to something a bit more costly (but more memorable). The chance to win a prize through competitions is always tempting and is sure to bring in new prospects.
Top Tip – Allow for production times when purchasing your exhibition equipment and promotional items
At the Exhibition
As the day goes on its only natural for your staff to become sluggish and tired, you need to ensure that they stay positive. A motivated team will differentiate you from your competitors and visitors will be able to tell that they are making the effort. Share progress towards goals and visitor feedback with the team to keep them motivated.
Your branding should be attracting serious business leads as opposed to casual visitors just looking around, but you can also use your staff to bring in extra leads. Your team working the stand should be outgoing and confident, ask them to approach people around the exhibition and bring them into your stand.
Once you have them at your stand it’s important that you accurately take down their details so that you can follow up with them after the event. You can simply use pen and paper (make sure it’s kept safe!) or if you have a laptop or computer available you can enter personal details into a database. These should then be organised into a priority of who you will contact first after the exhibition to who you will contact last, usually this is the warm leads to the cold leads.
Another method to generate more leads is to work with your marketing team to set up appointments with journalists in order to earn media coverage. Make sure a senior member of staff is available to talk with the journalist at the agreed time.
Top Tip: Regular briefings and encouraging teamwork are important to keeping a highly motivated and well-informed team
After the show it’s important to de-brief your stand staff and managers. Figure out what worked well and what didn’t and what you can do better next time you exhibit. You should also measure your success against the SMART objectives you previously set.
Now it’s follow up time, your sales team should follow up with all the leads generated within 3 days, if you noted the quality of the lead when taking their details then they should be aware of this so they can change their follow up strategy, for example a low quality lead may receive an acknowledgement and thank you letter whereas a high quality lead may require a visit in person.
If you intend to email your leads it is important to have the email designed and ready to go before the trade show, this helps to ensure that you will follow up with the lead in a timely manner. Your email should be specific to the show, using the same email for every exhibition you attend is a sure fire way to get ignored.
Top Tip: Include the leads name in both the subject line and content of your follow up email, personalisation increases open rates
We hope this guide will help you to improve the quantity and quality as well the quality of sales leads you are generating at exhibitions. At XL Displays we create, design and build exhibition stands that get you results.
For more information don’t hesitate to contact us or call us on 01733 511030.