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It's Not Just a Badge Scan; It's Pipeline

Leveraging Technology to Generate Qualified Leads at Trade Shows 

Exhibiting at a trade show is a great face-to-face opportunity to connect with potential customers, highlight your products or services, and generate leads. However, many companies make the mistake of solely relying on badge scans as their lead generation strategy. While this may provide basic contact information, it does not necessarily mean these leads are qualified or interested in your offerings. To truly make the most out of exhibiting, it's important to have a comprehensive lead generation plan in place including digital tools, such as Universal Lead Capture, to generate qualified leads and maximize your sales pipeline. 

Merely scanning badges at a trade show is equivalent to putting a bunch of business cards into a fishbowl. Sure, you might have a stack of cards at the end of the day, but there is no guarantee that the CEO or sales team will consider them qualified leads. Capturing leads at trade shows requires a more strategic approach. Here are four keys and tips to help you make the most of your trade show leads. 

1. Understand what makes a qualified lead. 
This requires taking the time to develop a target persona, which involves exploring the pain points and characteristics of your ideal customer. By understanding who your target attendee is, you can determine the criteria for a qualified lead. Understanding your target attendee is essential because it allows you to focus your efforts on individuals who are genuinely interested in your products or services. You can avoid wasting valuable time and resources on leads that are unlikely to be converted into customers.  

  • TIP: A best practice is to have an agreed upon definition between sales and marketing of what makes a marketing qualified lead (MQL). An MQL is determined by a list of specific criteria to ensure that you are effectively targeting the right individuals at trade shows. This will ultimately help you maximize your pipeline and increase your chances of converting leads into loyal customers.

2. Take a holistic approach by creating an Attendee Journey.
To truly maximize your lead generation efforts at trade shows, it's important to take a holistic approach and consider the entire attendee journey. This means looking at how you can engage potential leads before the show, during their time in your booth, and even after the show is over. By integrating a Universal Lead Capture System (ULC) into your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) database or marketing automation platform, you can seamlessly capture leads and automatically send them relevant information, such as brochures or follow-up emails. This not only streamlines the lead capture process, but also allows you to nurture leads and stay connected with them long after the trade show ends.

  • TIP: Develop a well-planned attendee journey that guides attendees through your exhibit, bringing them closer to your brand and messaging with each step.
  • TIP: Your brand story and key messaging are the foundation of your conversations. Develop messages for each step of your attendee journey. Woven together, these messages will captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression. 

3. Use Universal Lead Capture.
Once you understand what makes an MQL and have a well-developed attendee journey, you can genuinely appreciate the value of a Universal Lead Capture System (ULC). ULC integrates with the event management platform's registration system to retrieve attendee information. When an exhibitor scans a badge or enters an email address, the system creates a lead record and populates it with the attendee's data. This enables exhibitors to qualify and nurture leads using Marketing Automation or CRM tools. You can collect and manage leads using various devices including mobile devices, tablets, and laptops, with your entire team accessing the same information and capturing leads both on and off the show floor. 

One of the great advantages of using a Universal Lead Capture System (ULC) is the ability to instantly access your data. The data is incredible; you can see how many times attendees engage with your exhibit, helping you in the lead qualification process. With many ULC programs, you can review and score the leads you have captured at the end of each day, allowing you to stay organized and track your progress. When selecting a ULC system, it's important to choose one that is easy to use so you can quickly train your staff to capture leads efficiently.

  • TIP: Personalize the questionnaire and integrate it into the attendee journey, gathering more qualification data at each hands-on or digital activation. 
  • TIP: To maximize efficiency, train your staff to team up, with one person engaging in conversation while the other inputs notes into the system. This collaborative approach will ensure a seamless lead capture process and set you up for success in your trade show strategy.
  • TIP: At the end of each day, review all the leads you gathered that day, add any missing relevant information, and if they meet your defined criteria, qualify them on the show floor.

4. Don’t let your leads go stale! 
To generate pipeline and increase sales, it is crucial to gather high-quality information from your attendees and deliver it to your sales team as quickly as possible. Trade show leads are often more qualified than leads generated from other marketing tactics, but they also have a short shelf life. With ULC, you to get qualified leads into the hands of the sales team more quickly and efficiently. Plus, with detailed notes, sales can continue the conversation rather than starting over. 

By understanding what makes a qualified lead and implementing a comprehensive lead generation strategy, you can maximize your pipeline and increase your chances of converting leads into loyal customers. It's important to move beyond just scanning badges and utilize digital tools to streamline the lead capture process and ensure that you are targeting the right individuals. By taking a comprehensive approach to the attendee journey, you can personalize the questionnaire and gather more qualification data, making your lead generation efforts even more effective. 

  • TIP: Include the booth staffer in the first post-show sales meeting to ensure a great handoff and connection. 

Don't underestimate the power of a comprehensive lead generation plan and digital tools, because it’s not just a badge scan; it's your pipeline to revenue.