Steven Paulsen, senior director (marketing services) at NewTek, tells Vinita Bhatia how exhibitors can convert leads from trade shows into potential customers and get a better return on their investment
Why do companies participate in trade shows and exhibitions like NAB, IBC or even the regional ones organised in their countries? One of the primary reasons is that they get a chance to meet and greet existing and potential business customers, industry peers, and vendors under a single roof and showcase their latest products. Participating in such events is, however, an expense and, hence, every exhibitor has to ensure that their company is getting a good return on investment.
Depending on the company’s sales model — whether it is through direct or channel partners — determining the optimal return on investment can be a challenge. The most important thing is to ensure that one comes into the show with clear, measurable goals that are metrics of value to the company.
This can be a direct sales number of ‘X’ as against the total investment made, an opportunity goal of the total number of leads gathered, or a marketing analysis of brand recognition through post-event surveys to ensure those that visited your booth retained your message to the market. The key is to define those goals prior to the event and follow-up post event to track your results to draw conclusions.
The qualification of the leads generated at the trade show should start with tracking how your team interacted with the attendees. Contrary to the popular notion, a simple scan-and-grab requires more nurturing than an attendee who visited a demo pod, asked questions, and requested follow up. It is important to ensure your booth staff is accurately recording the interaction.
Leads requiring additional support through email and nurture campaigns should not be ignored. They do require a marketing strategy but will result in building the sales pipeline. Hot leads should be defined as leads that are primed and ready for the sales team to contact or distribute to their channel.
The key is to segregate your leads so that the sales team is not spending time on cold opportunities requiring a considerable amount of recurring follow-up instead of dealing with opportunities that are already primed and ready to move towards a direct conversation on workflow solutions.
TRAIN YOUR STAFF WELL
Define a lead qualification survey that your booth staff should complete when scanning attendees at events. This will require training so that the demo staff is working the questions within the conversation and then filling out the survey after the interaction is complete. Post event, ensure that the leads are distributed according to how your company manages them. Giving a touch of personalisation to the leads using CRM tools also helps.