Lead Retrieval for 2010: Tips to Get Your Tradeshows Lead Management Strategy Off to a Great Start

Last week the world was abuzz with news from the Computer Electronics Show (CES).  Exhibitors at the show were very busy meeting new prospects and "capturing leads" to ensure their exhibit maximized every opportunity to drive more business.

As you kick off the New Year and are evaluating your 2010 tradeshow schedule, now is the time to look with a fresh eye at the show strategy you have in place for lead capture, reporting and sales generation.

The eternally important questions underlying B-to-B tradeshow success are:

  • Can I point to an increase in sales revenue from my tradeshow exhibit?
  • How good are the leads and opportunities I'm generating from this show?
  • Should I go to this show again?

So often companies will use the lead retrieval system that's offered by show management and each show frequently offers different lead retrieval systems. That's the challenge. Without the continuity of using one lead management solution across all your yearly events, your company is often left with:

  • Inconsistent data fields that are difficult to import into CRM systems;
  • Unnecessary or missing data;
  • Different formats that need to be painstakingly modified;
  • No ability to capture lead qualification survey data; and most importantly,
  • Missed sales opportunities because the sales group is forced to cull through a list of unqualified contacts.

When these problems occur, sales can quickly become unfocused and unmotivated because they can't distinguish which leads are most likely to close. That translates to more lag time between the end of the event and inputting the information into a CRM system. A long lag time results in a cold lead or one lost to competition. Without qualification, leads aren't prioritized and there's no opportunity to learn about attendee interest or requirements. Importantly, there is also no ability to compare one event to another so trends can be determined. With these problems, the value of the data collected at the tradeshow is non-existent.

Often too, prospects feel cheated too when they become victims of poor service and may feel your company "doesn't get their needs." When prospects aren't entirely sure you can meet their needs, they will often move on to another vendor. For companies that have faced these issues and are looking instead to capitalize quickly on tradeshow leads, there is tremendous value in using one consistent lead management solution across all events.

When lead management consistency is the mantra, benefits abound. Sales becomes more effective and efficient as "real" leads are more quickly identified. There's a trickledown effect too as marketing is pleased to fine tune its approach to generating better leads. The sales department is happier too with the quality of leads when they close them quickly thus resulting in satisfied  customers, more sales revenue and increasing budgets for additional tradeshows and other marketing activities.

One easy way to ensure you're on the right path to obtaining this type of lead prosperity is to use one consistent lead retrieval solution throughout all of your events. Don't leave your lead retrieval and lead qualification to chance. Maximize your trade show budget and investment.

Here are some suggestions that can enable better quality leads:

  • Deploy a system that accepts 1D, 2D barcodes, magstripe and RFID, for compatibility with virtually all types of name badges used at trade shows;
  • Request a small form factor, mobile, easy to handle, easy to learn and can be used without training;
  • Ensure a lead management solution provides a measurable ROI - i.e. it has to let you include more data than just contact info;
  • When possible, try to integrate a solution that includes behavioral data with BANT data. Integrate your lead system with your CRM system;
  • When possible, use a solution that provides real-time data and has the ability to transfer data to a CRM solution at any time, not just at the end of the event;
  • Understand the importance of a solution which provides cross event metrics and analytics, shows comparison across events in terms of number of leads, attendee profiles and other important metrics;
  • Find a solution that lets you add custom fields in a format that's convenient for you; and,
  • Develop a relationship with a company that focuses on and has experience in "measuring the value of event."

 As we start 2010, be sure that you can correctly answer these two questions: "Are we generating qualified leads to increase revenue?" "Are we determining our most valuable show?" "When you believe in the quality of the data that is given to sales, it's easier to manage the sales funnel by consistently providing "sales-ready" leads. Using one lead management solution across all tradeshow events ensures success.