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Make That Show Count — How to Manage Your Trade Show Leads

Written by michellecamp

Written by Adam Snape of Custard.


Trade shows are excellent opportunities to stock up on thousands of sales leads for future marketing campaigns. From business cards to close connections, trade show leads can range from ice cold to burning hot, making it important to have a suitable strategy ready for warming prospects and closing sales.

The trade show experts at Display Wizard have prepared this simple five-step guide for businesses interested in maximising their income from leads generated at trade shows. Read on to learn more about how your sales team can extract every last drop of sales potential from a stack of business cards or LinkedIn profiles.

1. Divide your leads into hot, warm, and cool

Most trade shows will supply you with a wide variety of leads, ranging from burning hot soon-to-be closed sales to rather lukewarm business cards exchanged following a quick conversation.

The key to post-event marketing success is dividing your leads into groups. Divide your sales leads into three different categories: hot leads, lukewarm leads, and cold leads.

While the needs of every prospect are always slightly different, sorting your leads by warmth and sales potential makes it far easier for your team to use the right tactics on their sales calls.

2. Contact your warmest sales leads first

A hot lead doesn’t stay hot forever. If you’ve primed a lead and made them ready to buy, it’s vital that you act quickly to close the sale and avoid wasting an opportunity for success.

Give your sales team the warmest leads first, and have them focus on closing these prospects before moving onto the others. It’s often best to devote at least a week of sales efforts to your hottest leads before even considering the others.

3. Use a CRM application to track progress

Trade show exhibits can generate thousands of leads, making it important that you have a tracking and management system read for your post-event campaign. Use a scanner to extract data from business cards and import it into your CRM software.

Whether you use an in-house application or a SaaS (software as a service) website to organise your leads, it’s vital to have at least some form of customer relationship management software so that your sales team can remain focused and organised.

4. Prime cold leads with special offers

You can’t market to cold leads using the same strategies as you’d use for warm ones – doing so is an expensive recipe for marketing disaster. Because of this, you’ll need to prime your cold sales leads using email campaigns and special offers.

Instead of calling your cold leads with an immediate sales pitch, contact their staff with free offers and helpful questions. A lot of the time, cold leads are interested in working with you, but need to develop a relationship before they buy anything.

5. Ask new customers and clients for referrals
Once you’ve successfully converted your trade show leads into customers, it’s worth asking your new customers for referrals and recommendations. Spend a few months building a relationship with each customer by demonstrating service and value.

After you’ve established a great working relationship with your top customers, offer them a discount on their key purchases in exchange for successful referrals. Many of your top customers may have hundreds of contacts in their industry, making them a valuable source of marketing information for your business.

Using this five-step process, you will be able to convert a large number of your trade show sales leads into loyal, profitable customers. Be sure to act quickly in marketing to your leads, as your competitors may also be using the same post-event strategy.


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Michelle is a marketing coordinator for the Meeting Pool. She is recent graduate from Santa Clara University with a passion for marketing and event planning.