Reprinted from the 2009 December Business column in Metalforming magazine
By: Michael Bleau
You just returned from the FABTECH, AWS and METALFORM tradeshow; now what?
If you are in the majority, chances are good that you did not prepare a post show step-plan for follow-up on your leads, which without makes it very difficult to measure the effectiveness of the show. Don’t be offended if you did, I mean no disrespect. Those who prepare are statistically in the minority. If you didn’t, just hope that your direct competitors are in the same boat. So take this opportunity to act on your leads and reap some financial benefits of exhibiting. Learn from this show and as you move towards events in 2010 take the time to prepare pre-show, on-site and post-show plans. Doing so simply puts you in an all-around better position. And considering how closely expenses are being scrutinized in the wake of the worse recession in generations, you will most likely have to address management as to the effectiveness of your show participation in terms of a return on the investment. If not, at the very least you should be interested in some metrics for your own benefit. A Tradeshow Week executive outlook study found that 49% of exhibitors still don't track or measure return on investment (ROI) within their trade show and event programs. Understanding how you and your team perform against the associated costs is simply a good marcom management practice that will help you make better decisions leading up to future events. Also, consider that visitors to your booth are looking to you for assistance in improving what and how they manufacture. So take this opportunity to make it easy for your prospects. Be proactive so they don’t have to ‘chase’ you to realize their goals for visiting the show and spending time in your booth.
Concerning post show assessment, some basic evaluation criteria to consider includes:
More importantly, now that you have collected some sales leads, acting on these and following up is essentially why most of us exhibit in the first place. According to the Center of Exhibition Industry Research 9 out of 10 companies attend tradeshows to generate qualified leads, but a staggering 8 out of 10 leads never receive any form of follow up action—that’s a whopping 80%. Before you start generating mental excuses and the finger pointing that invariably takes place between the marketing guys who compile the leads for sales, and the sales guys who complain that the leads are unqualified, realize this; YOU’RE ON THE SAME TEAM! I’ve been on both sides of these activities, so I’m writing from experience and I get it that only about 10% of all leads collected on the show floor turn out to be ‘hot’ prospects. My point; follow up those leads as soon as you can. Leverage the fact that many of your direct competitors will do nothing with their leads, leaving you with opportunity to mine that valuable 10%.
Some basic follow-up activities include:
The intention of accelerating your sales cycle doesn’t end with the close of the show. Considering all of the effort, time and expense that go into tradeshow participation, it just makes sense to complete the cycle. Measure your performance and follow-up with show prospects.
Served in various capacities within capital equipment engineering, robotics, project management, sales and marketing.
L&A collaborates with Industry Scope, Prior to L&A Nancy was Vice President of Public Relations for a full service B2B agency.