Why Automated Lead Management?
Faster results, measurable ROI.
by Nadine Miller
While trade shows and exhibits offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with thousands of interested industry professionals, that wealth of different lead opportunities goes untapped far more often than we like to admit. As a recent study by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research shows, 80 percent of leads collected at a show remain unfulfilled.
So why does this happen?
In many companies, exhibition staff collects leads and simply turns them over to the sales department. After all, it is the sales department’s job to put those leads to work. However, this is short sighted, and it leaves another department responsible for showing the value in attending trade shows.
Companies dedicate valuable resources in order to carefully collect contact information, so letting it go to waste is a productivity and efficiency debacle. Attending trade shows as an exhibitor comes with a high price tag, and businesses that do not successfully leverage leads take a loss on the entire value proposition.
Yes, there are pros and cons to every solution, but automated lead management programs synchronize the process from the initial greeting to the sale.
Lead management: Manual vs. automated
Conventions and other events have a variety of ways to automate the lead management process, in some cases integrating it with existing customer relationship management software.
Yet, some exhibitors still choose to use these common manual collection methods:
- Exchanging business cards.
- Participating in giveaways.
- Offering email sign-up for newsletters.
The downside of any manual data collection is the necessity of inputting these new leads into the CRM system back at the office. This essentially doubles the time involved in putting the collected leads to work. More time equals more money, reducing the return on investment on attending the event in the first place.
Automated lead management systems can help smooth the data transition process and assure that every lead collected receives at least one follow-up. Of course, sorting good data from bad can be a challenge.
Quick follow-up encourages quick sales
The more time exhibitor staff can spend making contact with potential customers, the better the chances of a sale following the event. Time spent filling out forms and waiting for contact allows the good first impression time to wear off. Even the best presentation at a trade show will be forgotten when there is no follow-up.
Automated lead management systems allow companies to collect customer information, sort leads into categories and send out an immediate email or schedule a phone call.
It’s sorting leads that causes the most difficulty.
“Traditional registration demographics are only a small signal of the quality of a lead,” says Lawrence Coburn, CEO and co-founder of DoubleDutch, a data-driven mobile event app. “You can create a much more accurate lead score by understanding everything an attendee did at the event, whom they followed, what speakers they rated highly and the topics they followed.”
The more precise the follow-up, the better the customer response, and the more conversions a company has. For example, construction companies sell a variety of different services. If one potential client is interested in residential and another is interested in commercial applications, they need different follow-up information.
More leads, better leads, more complicated process
With automation technology, companies can scan an attendee badge, upload the information directly to a CRM system and generate a follow-up email, all within moments. The downside of a quick response can be choosing the right information to send.
A simple introductory email does not seem complicated on the surface, but depending on the potential customer, there can be many factors influencing the language and information that should be included. As part of a comprehensive response program, follow-ups need to be broken down into categories based on qualifying information.
“Just as marketers have learned to score activity on their websites that indicates interest in their products and services, we are able to score activity at events that indicates interest in each exhibitor’s products and services,” Coburn says. “Joining sessions, commenting on threads and following key influencers are signals that build a lead score that strongly indicates interest.”
That indication of interest can be instantly relayed to sales representatives, who can immediately tailor their pitch in a much more efficient manner instead of relying on intuition and educated guessing. Instead of inundating customers with information they don’t care about, pitches can be hyper-focused and customized for anyone showing interest.
Once the sales process begins to evolve from slightly interested to proposal ready, your automated correspondence, usually email, can then be chosen based on the preprogrammed criteria and customer-generated responses.
Lead management increases ROI
Yes, adding automated systems requires more planning than simply collecting the data manually or scanning attendee badges. And yes, sending out immediate follow-ups requires a high level of organization. However, the upfront time and effort are repaid with an increase in the number of conversions obtained per show.
Since an important, measurable worth of trade shows lies in the resulting customer acquisition numbers, making sure the leads get follow-up should be the top priority. Successful automated lead management does add additional steps into the process of trade show marketing, but it results in greater returns.
A final note: If the follow-up from the show comes from the same representative who spoke with the customer originally, there is a much greater connection to the remembered experience from the show.
Nadine Miller has spent several years in the convention planning and implementation field. Her largest show includes the East Coast anime convention, Otakon, which serves more than 32,000 attendees annually. In her role as Dealers Room department head, she coordinates between show management and exhibitors, ensuring the event runs smoothly from all sides.