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Are Your Trade Show Leads “Sales Ready” or “Ready for the Garbage”?

Back in the early days of computing, there was a popular saying, “Garbage in; garbage out!”  It’s still true today: if you collect garbage for leads, don’t expect anything but garbage to come out the other end.  What’s a pile of leads garbage?  That’s the pile of badge scans that have inaccurate contact information (phone and email are often incorrect) and are not qualified, just swiped. And don’t be fooled that your leads “are on a USB stick” or you “download them from the Internet”.  Garbage is garbage, be it on paper or electronic.

If you analyze any trade show’s demographics, you’ll likely find that no more than 20% of the attendees are your target.  If you promote an iPad giveaway and everyone gets scanned, then only 20% of those scans are worth anything.  But worse than that, those scans are just contacts, not leads.  To get sales to pay any attention to any leads gathered at your show, the captured lead will need to indicate a defined product interest, a time frame for possible purchase, and something that identifies the size of the opportunity (such as quantity).

This is not to say that you shouldn’t collect “C” leads at trade shows, but if you jam your booth with “flies”, how will your reps have time to interact with your target market and get “A” leads?  If you do a giveaway, target mail or email only the 20% before the show, and try to make the giveaway tied to your products and services and be of benefit to the attendee. In order to collect more “sales-ready” leads, you’ll need to have a couple of things in place.

First, focus your sales team on the goal of getting two sales-ready leads per hour per person.  Agree with your sales director on the definition of such a lead–usually it is a defined product interest with a short time frame and a quantity over “x”.  Get a contest going between your reps in the booth. The reward doesn’t have to be great; bragging rights are often good enough. 

Second, get some basic training for the team.  Sales conversations at trade shows need to be focused and structured in a different way than day-to-day selling.  Once trained, every sales rep in the booth should be able to qualify a attendee within two minutes to determine if they should spend another five minutes or 15 minutes with them.  Well trained reps know how to focus on attendee questions and needs instead of their own agenda of spewing out endless information.  They will also know how to include more than one person at a time into their conversations and demos.

Third, give your reps trade show optimized tools, such as virtual collateral and lead detailing stations. The more information tools you can provide your reps, the more answers they have for attendees and the more sales ready leads you’ll get.

And last, but not least, send the leads that are “scans only” to your lead nurturing program, not to your sales reps.  If your reps get leads that have real potential for a sale, they’ll gain respect for the leads you gather at shows and you’ll see a dramatic rise in sales from these leads. Remember “Garbage in, garbage out.”  Time to take out the garbage!

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