Trade show season can be stressful. With the cost of attendance, the man hours spent on planning and execution, and very real concerns about maximizing ROI, the pressure to generate quality sales leads at trade shows is always high. Here are our trade show tips for capturing those leads.

Trade Show Tips: Lead Generation

1. Outline measurable goals:

It’s hard to be successful when no one has concretely defined what “success” is. The first thing to do in the planning process is to set challenging yet realistic goals for each trade show. The most important thing to consider about those goals, however, is whether they’re quantifiable.

Avoid vague statements like, “we want to do better at getting people to our booth.” How much better? How many people do you want each of your sales reps to talk to? How many leads do you want to have by the time the show’s over? By setting goals that can be assessed by facts and numbers, you’ll be able to measure success, as well as think of specific ways to meet those objectives.

2. Promote the event beforehand:

It may seem strange to promote a trade show that you’re not directly involved in planning. But ultimately, you have to look at that trade show as your stage, and you want as many people in the audience as possible. After all, a bigger pool of people means more potential leads.

Blast your customers and contacts about the show. Some companies even pay for passes for their biggest buyers and/or prospects. Just make sure to let them know which booth you’ll be at, so that they can make sure to stop by. Promoting a trade show to your retailers and prospects might encourage attendance and orders that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

3. Create a unique, consistent identity for your personnel:

In a sea of exhibits, it’s all about how eye-catching you can be. Obviously, your booth design has a lot to do with this, but you also have the opportunity to catch people’s attention with what your sales team is wearing.

Design a cool t-shirt that everyone can sport at the event. Avoid an overly promotional design, and instead go for something that will intrigue people enough to stop and see what your brand is all about.

4. Get interactive:

Creating an interactive experience goes a long way toward drawing people’s attention in any scenario, and trade shows are no different. By bringing in audience participation, you’ll attract a crowd.

You want to create an experience around your brand and products at a trade show. The use of live demonstrations, touch screens, and interesting new technologies like mobile augmented reality are great ways of doing this. Imagine having people just point their phone screens at a product, which then triggers an animated, interactive experience. They’ll remember your product–and you–for it.

With the large audience that this kind of experiential marketing brings, you’ll also be able to communicate with several leads at once. Just make sure you have enough personnel on the floor to capture those leads.

5. Use gamification to your advantage:

Having your top salespeople at each show goes without saying, but have you thought about new ways to “gamify” your next trade show? Gamification is a technique used in a wide variety of contexts, in which everyday tasks are placed in a game-like context to engage people to participate in or perform better at that task.

You can actually gamify the lead generation process among your sales team by setting contests and offering prizes. By tracking each sales rep’s progress and encouraging some healthy competition, you’ll also be creating visibility and accountability.

6. Cut to the chase:

Time is precious at a trade show. There are only so many hours in each day during which you can generate those leads, so speed is paramount.

That said, avoid small talk. Both you and your attendees are there for the same purpose: business. Get straight to the point with each conversation–understanding their needs and explaining how your company can meet them.

7. Use a digital catalog:

For brands with a large number of SKUs, it’s often impossible to have all of your products in the booth with you. Likewise, it can be overwhelming (not to mention messy) for you to pull all of the products you want to show someone off the displays. A digital catalog can be a huge help in this instance. Arm your sales team with tablets on which your products are stored. Trade show attendees can then quickly scroll through your offerings in a clean, organized way to get the ball rolling.

With this modern experience, you’ll impress attendees with your level of customer service, transforming potential leads into qualified ones. You’ll also be able to generate each lead in less time, allowing your team to speak to more people.

8. Follow up with leads with suggested orders:

As an easy way to follow up with leads after the show is over, you can use order management software to snap a photo of the prospective customer’s business card, draft a suggested order based on your conversation with them, and email it out after the show.

If your order management software tool has an “interactive quotes” feature, the recipient can then make modifications to the order and confirm it. In just a few easy steps, a potential lead can become new customer.

 

While the trade show environment is extremely competitive, it can also be extremely lucrative. Ultimately, you need to do whatever you can to stand out on that floor.

Once the dust settles, make sure to follow up with all of your leads as soon as possible. Be extremely quick to respond to all requests, and concentrate on setting up in-store appointments with new leads. Armed with these lead generation tips, you’ll have a lot of work to do after the show is over.

Questions about this post or more tips to share about lead generation at trade shows? Let us know in the comments below. For more trade show marketing tips, check out our “Guerilla Marketing Ideas for Trade Shows” post here.