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10 Top Tips For Trade Show Lead Management

Skyline Tradeshow Lead Management 10 Top TipsImagine this:  You had a great show, with a flood of booth visitors and a pile of leads.  And yet after the show, your fine effort fizzled into nothing because your hard-earned leads sat gathering dust atop someone else’s desk.

Lead management is the least visible, yet most important final stage of your trade show marketing.  To help you bring this essential step into the light, here are the 10 best tips that I’ve gleaned over the last two decades:

  • Seek to get not just leads, but qualified leads, so that your field sales force will value them and follow up.
  • Train your staffers to qualify leads at the show according to high, medium, and low qualified levels, and then label them as A, B, or C leads.
  • Do more lead follow up!  Have a lead fulfillment plan prepared before the show starts.
  • Don’t rely on just a business card from trade show booth visitors: Have a lead card or electronic lead retrieval system so you have enough space to record details on your booth visitors’ wants and needs.
  • Do more lead follow up!  Get your sales and marketing management to stress the importance of lead follow up — and even put some teeth into repercussions if they aren’t.
  • Have one person responsible for lead fulfillment, data entry into your CRM database, and lead transfer to sales.
  • Do more lead follow up!  Build more frequent touches with leads after the show (via calls, emails, or mailers).
  • Prepare before the show to be able to quickly send fulfillment right after the show — even during the show. Include in the process the ability to customize fulfillment to include what the visitor specifically asked for.
  • Do more lead follow up!  Check in regularly with your reps to report on lead progress.
  • Watch out for the critical link that is too often broken:  What booth visitors reveal to your booth staffer and what your booth staffer responds is not passed on to the field sales rep, which causes lack of motivation for lead follow up and frustration with the booth visitor.

So much of good lead management starts with proper preparation of your booth staffers.  Yet what happens after the show is just as important — but gets less attention once the urgency of the show is over.

I hope you enact some of these 10 tips and get even more value from your trade show leads.  Your company has invested so much to get them — make sure you succeed at this critical final step.

This article is one of a series on Top 10 Tips for various key trade show topics:

> Top 10 Tips For Trade Show Promotions

> Top 10 Tips For Trade Show Exhibit Design

> Top 10 Tips For Trade Show Booth Staffing

What's Working In Exhibiting White PaperLead management is just one piece of the puzzle for successful trade shows.  Read the What’s Working In Exhibiting white paper to find out more tips and tricks to get the most out of your exhibiting experience.  Click here to request your free copy. 

About the Author

Mike Thimmesch is the Principal at Thimmesch Marketing. For over 25 years, he has created and implemented innovative marketing, lead generation, and exhibiting strategies that profitably grow company sales and brand awareness. Mike rose to Director level at Skyline Exhibits, where he helped generate over a half million leads, resulting in over $1 billion in sales. He published 11 industry white papers and eight exhibiting books, presented over 100 trade show webinars, and wrote over 200 exhibit marketing blog posts.

14 responses to “10 Top Tips For Trade Show Lead Management

  1. I’ve booked a couple of speakers to be present at trade show booths for clients, and you’re absolutely right – lead follow up is incredibly important, especially internally to maximize the value. Thanks for the great post Mike!

  2. Great post Mike, I am dumbfounded by the fact that companies still do not get this and still fail when it comes to lead follow-up. Your advice is so spot on.

    Coming back with too many unqualified leads is one of the biggest catalysts for failure. Second is not having a detailed plan in place before the event as you mentioned. I love the fact you’ve included “and even put some teeth into repercussions if they [leads] aren’t [followed up on].” Someone needs to start taking responsibility.

    1. Thanks, Traci. I know this is a very sore spot with you, and rightly so. It is so much more obvious when an exhibitor has poor booth staffers or no promotions or a poorly designed exhibit — but when their lead follow up is poorly done, it does so out of view and therefore doesn’t get fixed. Who is responsible for poor follow up? Is it the exhibit manager, the marketing manager, the sales person, the sales manager, or someone else? Figure that out in your organization, and you’re closer to fixing the problem.

  3. Mike: According to the statistics I have found 80% of the leads are not followed up on properly. Most of the time, you might get one phone call, email or snail mail and that is it.

    We have developed a automated campaign strategy that once your lead is entered in the software we will launch a custom campaign. The campaign will utilize digital, dimensional, Phone and direct mail. Out of 12 steps there might be 4 follow up calls.

    Marketing loves this program because it shares the responsibility of lead follow up between marketing and sales.

    Why spend all the money to have the opportunity to go to a trade show and not follow up.

    I am a big fan of Peter Drucker quote;
    “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it!”

  4. Hi Mike
    Thank you for your very astute comments. The best one was the idea of planning before hand what marketing you would do after the show with the leads. So often we come back from a show excited about the leads, start with the first few “hot ones, then jump back into our regular work and don’t follow up on all of the leads properly. I’m sure we have missed some great opportunities. The idea of knowing ahead of time what we will be sending out, or promoting after the show is excellent. Thanks,
    Dale Wilcox

    1. You are welcome, Dale. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, instead of remembering to get the full value of all that investment your company made in generating those trade show leads.

  5. At exhibit events we use our messaging system to automatically text and email company affiliates when a booth visitor asks for them or could use their help.

    This makes it so that you do not lose a contact oppurtunity just because a rep is at lunch!

  6. I have been thinking about getting a management team for a trade show coming up. I really appreciated how this article talked about having a lead fulfillment plan prepared before the show starts. I think that this is a great idea to make sure that everything goes as planned.

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