The 5-Step Guide to Managing Trade Show Leads

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Retail / Wholesale : 7 min read

The 5-Step Guide to Managing Trade Show Leads

So, you just met some great people at a trade show—a lot of them are leads. Now, you have to keep those relationships going with effective lead management.

Lead management is the process of getting leads (usually from marketing campaigns or in this case, a trade show) and taking care of them while guiding them closer and closer to making a purchase. And once they make that purchase, continuing to nurture your relationship in the hopes of getting repeat sales and referrals.

Sounds easy enough, right?

The challenging part is figuring out the how. How does one “take care” of their leads? How can you lead them towards a sale? How do you keep them around?

We’ll dive into all of these questions and more with this step-by-step guide on managing your trade show leads.

Step 1: Use lead capture technology—not a pen and paper.

Before you even step through the door at the trade show, you should already have a game plan for how you’re going to capture leads.

And no, having people scribble their name and email address onto a piece of paper... which you jot other sales notes on the back of (if you get a chance to) does not count as a game plan. Or at least, not a very good one.

This is the 21st century, and we’ve got technology to do that manual stuff for us so you can focus on making those connections, not being a human typewriter.

It also means you won’t be one of those people getting back into the office the day after a trade show with a mountain of lead information on paper they’ll need to manually enter, one by one, into an Excel spreadsheet or a CRM.

These days, a lot of trade shows actually have scanners set up for each exhibitor, so all visitors have to do is scan their attendee badge at your booth and their info is automatically captured. This information can then be fed right to your CRM.

Which means all the people working your booth have to worry about is getting to know the attendees and taking notes as they do. (What a time to be alive.)

You might not have that luxury at every trade show though, so here are a couple of other tech tools that will make your life way easier (and save you a lot of time).

Use a business card scanner.

People are going to give you their business cards—don't waste your time manually entering them into your database. Instead, use a business card scanner app such as Business Card Reader which will allow you to instantly sync all the lead’s information to your CRM just by snapping a photo of it.

But wait—there's more. This app also has the power to pull additional information about the lead to their CRM record from their social media profiles and give you the option to add notes at the same time, which will come in handy later when it comes time to follow up.

This way, instead of manually entering in customer info (and risking typos while you’re at it—we’re only human after all), you can have the information auto-populate into an Excel spreadsheet or even directly upload them into your CRM.

An example of a business card scanner tool

Use a lead capture form.

Some people who visit your booth might not have business cards, especially if the trade show is primarily B2C. So be sure to also have a tablet or laptop set up at your booth with a webform that visitors can enter their contact information into. Like the business scanner app, a lot of webforms can be set up to automatically upload information right into a spreadsheet or to your CRM.

Typeform is a user-friendly web form software with lots of modern, customizable templates to choose from and can be integrated directly with your CRM’s records. No need for you to play the middleman!

typeform sales template example.
An example of a Typeform template.

Step 2: Then, automate everything else that doesn’t require a human.

Once your leads are in your CRM, they’ll need to get assigned to the right sales reps. Depending on which CRM you’re using, you should be able to set this up to happen automatically based on preset criteria.

Here are some more tasks in your lead management process that you can automate:

Send an automatic welcome email when a lead enters your system.

Let it be known, automation is not being lazy. When used correctly, it can make for a more pleasant experience for both your sales team and your prospects, and empower you to do much more than you'd be able to through manual means.

One example of this is using an email automation software paired with your CRM to fire off customized “thanks for visiting our booth” emails to everyone who leaves their contact information at your trade show booth.

Many CRMs will allow you to personalize certain fields in email templates such as First Name, Last Name, Company Name, and more, making them sound handwritten even though they’re sent by a robot. Here’s an example of how you can send bulk emails in Copper, and customize them for each individual lead:

sending bulk emails to sales leads in copper crm.

By now you might be thinking…

“But doesn’t getting robots to do all my work for me defeat the purpose of relationship-building with my prospects?”

Nope, quite the opposite actually. Automating the stuff we highlighted here will give you more time to actually talk to leads and work on those relationships—instead of spending all your time on administrative work.

Okay, so the leads are with Sales. Now what?

Step 3: Schedule follow-up tasks (actually, let automation do it for you).

Fact: 80% of sales require at least five follow-ups to close a deal but 92% of sales reps give up before the fifth follow-up.

That’s a lot of missed opportunities.

Always, always, always follow up. And do it at least five times.

Remember those awesome tech tools we mentioned earlier that would automatically input your leads into your CRM for you so you don't have to?

Well, while other trade show participants are still commuting to the office where they have a bunch of manual data entry waiting for them, your leads were already ( automatically) assigned to sales reps as soon as they left your booth.

What sales reps should be doing at this point is scheduling follow-up tasks for their leads.

example of sales cadence for trade show leads.

And then schedule a few more. In fact, set up an entire sales cadence to do the follow-up work for you while you sit back and wait for replies.

Step 4: Have a sales cadence ready-to-go.

Your follow-up cadence may consist of a bunch of automated emails, something like this:

Day 0 (day of trade show): Thanks for visiting our booth!

Day 1: 2nd follow-up

Day 3: 3rd follow-up

Day 5: 4th follow-up

Day 9: 5th follow-up

Day 14: 6th follow-up

Define your metric of success for these emails. Is it open rate? Is it getting the lead to click through to your website? Or, is it getting the lead to complete a purchase? (Ambitious.)

Once this goal is accomplished, it might not make sense to continue sending them follow-up emails. Instead, you may want to add them to a totally different email campaign.

For example, if your goal was to get trade show leads to click through to your website and they did—and looked at a few products—it might be a good idea to send them an email containing the products they viewed the following day, reminding them to keep shopping. It might prompt them to go back and make a purchase!

Pro-tip: Customize the content of your follow-up emails based on the lead source. In this case, the source is a trade show, so sending them relevant information such as an event summary or “Cool things you might’ve missed at the X Trade Show” are more likely to get opened by the lead.

example of outbound sales cadence.
An example of a sales cadence.

Step 5: Play the long game.

Last but certainly not least: keep building those long-term relationships.

Regardless of whether your leads reply or don’t reply, buy or don't buy, you’ll want to keep in touch with them at least once a month just to remind them you exist at the very minimum.

Play the long game—keeping in touch with your quiet leads might eventually lead them to purchase something, and keeping in touch with your existing customers might just result in repeat sales.

Now get out there and manage those leads!