We’ve covered a lot of ground in this NAB Show article series. If you’re following along with me, you know the two important things your exhibit program should deliver: the importance of Defining Outcomes, and Selectively Attracting the right audience, and how to Manage Your Visitor Experience.

If ROI is the name of your exhibiting game, and you’re not closing deals on the show floor, the real product of a tradeshow is leads.

Ask any Exhibitor why they exhibit and you’ll find lead generation is usually in the top three.

Yet, industry statistics tell a different story:

  1. 87% of show leads are never effectively followed up. Exhibit Surveys
  2. 76% of sales people view tradeshow leads as cold calls. Exhibitor Magazine
  3. The average exhibitor takes 26 days to vet their show leads. Fish Software
  4. Only 1 of 4 exhibitors know what becomes of their leads. CEIR

Poor lead management not only limits or prevents a company from getting ROI, but can also negatively impact a brand in the market, and worse yet, limit the value attendees get from their time in the exhibit hall.

Here are 7 actions you can take to improve lead management for your next show.

  1. Define what is and isn’t a lead: Business cards in fish bowls, and scanning badges with no engagement are not leads. Having personal interaction, asking questions, capturing more information, and gaining agreement to a next action creates a quality lead.
  2. Set clear and firm lead goals: Each staffer should be accountable for at least one qualified lead per hour in the booth. And somebody needs to monitor this at the end of each shift, day and end of show.
  3. Develop a lead qualification process and integrate into your capture device. Ask your sales, dealers or distributors, what information they need to better understand and appreciate the value of a lead. Then, be sure the information is integrated into your capture device.
  4. Train your staff on the qualification process and use of the lead capture device. Train your booth on guiding conversations by asking the right questions – in the right order – and using the device to capture lead information and next actions.
  5. Develop a lead grading process. Not all leads are created equally. Use 3 or 4 criteria like: project or pain point identified, budget/funding, timeframe, and buying authority to grade leads as A – B – C.
  6. Track lead progress at least at 3 timed intervals after the show. Consider the length of your sales cycle and the frequency of the show to set firm reporting dates. Maybe 3 months, 6 months and 9 months after the show. Or whatever makes sense for your situation. Then integrate these reporting dates into your CRM system.
  7. Create contests to encourage lead follow-up and reporting. To build excitement, competition and gain compliance with lead follow-up and reporting, tie a contest to each of the three reporting dates. Reward the person with most in-person visits for the 1st date, most quotes or proposals for the second date, and most deals closed for the third date. Make the rewards ascend in value and be in line with the value of a customer or sale.

By implementing these seven lead management practices you will get higher quality tradeshow leads, convert more to sales, and be able to measure exhibiting ROI.