The Best Way to Contact Leads
By Barry Siskind
After exhibiting at a trade show you come back to the office with lots of leads. You know you should tend to them quickly but are not sure of the best method.
You can send an e-mail or text message which is fast and inexpensive but leaves you wondering if it got through a spam filter or was designated as junk. You can send your information by snail-mail which is slower and not terribly costly but you don’t know for sure if the person who you intended to contact actually received the message. Or you can send a package by courier which is costly but dependable as you can rest assured that your intended recipient did receive your information. Which is the best method?
The answer is simply it depends. Not on what but who. Each lead you obtained will have a personal preference for follow up. Some want information sent by snail-mail and others welcome e-mail or text message. Then depending on where in the world you exhibited, courier may be your only choice.
Finding this out is easy and will not add additional time to your already overworked staff. There are two steps.
- It is essential have some sort of lead gathering system at your disposal. This can take the form of one of the many electronic lead retrieval systems that are available through show management. You may also have an electronic system of your own tied into your PDA. Another solution is to create a lead card. This is a pre-printed form with a list of all the questions you will ask each visitor and room to record additional information you pick up during the conversation. In no case should you consider writing on the back of a business card as you can only jot down sketchy and inconsistent information and in some cultures it’s often considered rude.
- Whatever technology you choose be it electronic or manual, make sure you have room to ask one additional question which is, “What is the best way to stay in touch with you?” This goes to the heart of their personal preference and knowing this important bit of information will help you create a follow-up plan that has a better chance of success.
Once you return to the office you can instruct your staff to follow-up with each lead according to their preference. If this sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t. The trick is to focus your lead generating efforts on quality rather than quantity and to gather information in a consistent manner.
It’s easy to come back from a show with hundreds maybe thousands of names but many of these are not real prospective customers. By focusing your energy on finding those prospects that closely fit your customer profile and asking the right questions to whet their appetite for more information, you have done your job well. You may come back with fewer, but better quality leads and if you contact them in the manner they choose your chances of improving your exhibit ROI are greatly enhanced.