Did you know that tradeshows are often one of the most significant expenses in the marketing budget? An incredible amount of planning and effort go into preparation and execution for tradeshows, often leaving marketers to wonder what the return on investment (ROI) was.
As such, one of the biggest opportunities that companies have to increase the benefits of attending a tradeshow is in the follow-up with other attendees that were engaged with either at the booth or one-on-one. When returning from a tradeshow, it can be easy to shift into planning for the next event, but it’s critical to focus on trade show follow-up. The same amount of thought, if not more, should go into your strategy for how to creatively engage and follow up with the prospects you met at the event to ensure a positive ROI.
Here are six tips to help you get the most of your event spend with better trade show follow-up.
1. Organise Your Data
While trade show lead capture solutions have improved significantly in recent years, it is often a challenge to ensure that all the data that is important to you is captured when you scan a lead. Even if your team does a bang-up job of adding additional fields on the scanner to capture critical information—like how hot, warm, or cold the lead is, if the contact is a decision-maker, what other solutions they are using or evaluating, etc.—there is often a lot of organisation to do when you get back to the office.
So the first step when you return back home—or even better, if you can start the process while your team is at the conference—is to start scrubbing your list. Identify duplicate scans, identify whether the contact or account already exists in your database, and if so, append the existing record with data and notes from the event. Also, identify if you are missing critical information that will impede your follow-up success, like the contact’s phone number or industry, for example. If so, consider appending your data using a third party tool; a few to consider are Zoominfo, SalesPredict, Hoovers, and Lattice Engines.
2. Pick a Strategy
Before you even leave for the trade show, plan out your follow-up strategy. You’ll want to send at least one email from marketing within days of the event, thanking people for stopping by your booth, and reminding them of your message to trigger who you are and why they stopped by.
Remember they probably visited several other sponsors at the show, not to mention a handful of sessions and parties, so consider adding something to help jog their memory—for example, a photo of your booth or a video of the in-booth presentation you gave.
Also, make sure you have an agreed-upon qualification process established to determine which leads you’ll send to sales. Establishing this up front will give you a chance to think about the data filters you’ll want to apply and the types of data you’ll need to collect during the event if possible.
3. Prioritise leads in order of importance
Don’t just think through your marketing follow-up efforts but consider your sales strategy as well. Some of the piping-hot leads might require attention from your sales team as soon as you get back, while other cold leads might be better off receiving marketing emails from you for a while until they show signs of buying. If you have a lot of new leads that need a call—a good problem to have—consider sending them to sales in batches to match the urgency of the opportunity and capacity of your sales team. And if a contact is already a part of an active opportunity, make sure you have rules built into your CRM to ensure those contacts rise to the top of the assigned sales reps’ list for a callback after the event.
A sales acceleration solution like Velocify can help increase the capacity and consistency of follow-up with leads after an event. Velocify can apply distribution rules to make sure the right salesperson is assigned to work the right leads. And once the lead is assigned, Velocify can ensure the optimal contact strategy is followed for the best results—the right number of calls, emails, and social touches happen at the right intervals over a set time-period.
4. Practice follow-up with sales reps
Depending on the conference and who your company sends to work your booth, you may have a situation where the sales reps following up with trade show attendees aren’t the same people that they met onsite. Make sure to bring continuity to the situation for the prospect by properly preparing your sales reps.
Sales leaders, invite your marketing lead and a few of the booth staffers to your sales meeting to share key takeaways from the event. Also spend time walking through the suggested live script and voicemail script with your sales team. And finally, make sure your CRM serves up cues for your sales rep so they know that the reason the lead comes up for a call back is because they visited our booth at a recent event and talked to your colleague “Bob.” If you can put the talking points or script directly into the CRM, even better.
5. Brainstorm creative ideas
Consider the typical approach to producing paid advertising content. Because of the high cost of placing an ad on TV, in a magazine, or even alongside a Google search, the wording and format is often painstakingly analysed, reviewed by four or five people inside an agency and then sent to clients for even more input. Ad writers spend hours in a room tossing out ideas to land on something that would get potential buyers to stop what they were doing and take notice of the company’s message.
Sales and marketing emails aren’t that different, yet the reality is that many people settle for mediocrity because it doesn’t cost anything to send another email. If you are running a trade show follow-up campaign, stop for a moment and think about how you can stand out. You just spent tens of thousands of dollars—an hour of brainstorming with your team to create a stronger post-trade-show impression is definitely worth it. Maybe supplement that email with a blog post, a photo album of pictures you took at the event, or a video.
And for your sales reps doing post-event emails, make sure they leverage the notes that were so painstakingly entered into your CRM and take a more personalised approach. Look at these examples for what a difference it can make:
Non-personalised and all about “ME”
XYZ is a sales tool that has helped thousands of sales teams transform their sales processes. I’d like to show you how we can help you meet your revenue goals in the coming year. Let me know when we can set up a time for a demo of XYZ product.
Personalised and all about 'YOU'
I heard you dropped by the XYZ booth last week at Dreamforce and spoke to my colleague Bob. He said you’re building out your sales development team and looking at technology to help you scale your sales process. I’ve helped similar sales leaders that are in a position just like you and would love to see if there is a chance we can help out. Let me know what a good time would be for a quick chat.
Also, I thought you might be interested in the blog post that includes tips for how to build out a successful SDR team.
Whatever creative tactic you take, make sure to think about your audience and what they would appreciate. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.
6. Incentivise Group Participation
It’s easy to get caught up in new business but your company likely sent more than just your sales and marketing teams to the event. Think about your account team and the customer engagement they conducted onsite, or your business development (BD) team and all the new partner connections they made.
This bigger marketing force is critical to tap into. It is possible that your account team and BD teams can benefit from some of the same post-show communications you are using with prospects. It can never hurt to share the emails you are sending to them. Also, encourage your entire team to connect with everyone they met via LinkedIn and then make sure all new business contacts are input into a shared database, even if the contacts aren’t a prospect.
In an era of automated lead nurturing it is safe to say post tradeshow lead follow up is improving, however, just because we can blast every trade show lead the same tired email message instantly upon their return to the office doesn’t mean we should. For your next event, try putting extra thought into your follow-up strategy, working hand-in-hand with your marketing team. Just a little additional effort applied to a custom strategy will help you stand out from your competitors and close more deals after the tradeshow.