E•Connections

For exhibit and event professionals  

Your Dilemma Answers: What can I do about leads that lead nowhere?

May 3, 2011 By Editor

My boss is pushing me get more prospects to call us after trade shows and events. Is this realistic? Is there anything I can do to make this happen? Or should I press our salespeople to call the prospects instead?

— Gemma, Exhibits Manager


Chart a path to success

Gemma, although you shouldn’t be held solely responsible for the number of leads who show interest in your company, you are the driving force in the process. With this in mind, our readers advise you to:

  • Concentrate on real prospects.
  • Jump on opportunities.
  • Nurture leads.

Concentrate on real prospects

When it comes to getting leads at an event, your goal shouldn’t be just quantity but quality as well.

Steve McWilliams, VP sales & marketing for Capture Technologies, says giving up the shotgun approach can pay off in a number of ways.

“Stop using promotional items to bring into your booth people who won’t be prospects. Your percentage of prospect calls will increase, and you won’t burden sales with leads that lead nowhere. Also, you can eliminate the cost of in-booth promotional items and may be able to reduce booth staff for other cost savings.”

Jump on opportunities

Ideally, when leads leave an event, they’ll be psyched about your products or services and doing business with your company. But those feelings can fade quickly. That’s why you need to strike while the iron is hot.

Robert J. Siekert, owner/president of Robert J. Siekert Co., explains why the best time to talk to leads is while the event is still fresh in their minds.

“Contact leads immediately — within one to two days — to refresh the contact experience at the show. Offer to provide more information at their convenience and in person. Suggest a personal one-on-one meeting to explore how working together is beneficial to them. Offer to buy them coffee somewhere to get them away from the phone.

“Of course, qualify them first so you don’t waste their time and yours. Confirm they are authorized to purchase your product and services. If a lead isn’t, ask him or her to invite the person who is authorized to join you at the meeting. Then, explore possibilities with open-ended questions. LISTEN!”

Nurture leads

While it would be nice if every lead turned into a quick sale, with budgets the way they are, many people may have to put purchases on the back burner for now. But that doesn’t mean you should let them cool on your company.

Lew Hoff, president of Bartizan Connects, provides pointers on stoking the embers of a budding business relationship.

“Typically, only the most motivated prospects will call you. If someone is interested in your products but the need is not immediate, don’t expect to hear from them. The key for you is to collect and prioritize your leads. But you cannot prioritize unless you ask your prospects probing questions.

“Contact your best prospects within days after the event. Because their needs may not be immediate, you have to nurture these leads, something that can take weeks, months … or even years. Feed them information, not just about your products but about anything that can be useful to them, so that they come to view you as a resource.”








Comments

  • Get your company’s salespeople more involved — before even going to an event. Ask them what kind of information they need from leads, such as the products they’re interested in, their purchasing power and when they might be able to buy. Just collecting business cards or lead forms that fail to qualify leads really doesn’t help the sales staff — or you — with prospects.

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