Fall in Love with Your Trade Show Leads


Trade show lead generation is like speed datingWhen it comes to lead generation, trade shows are their own unique version of speed dating. Prospects wander from booth to booth, gathering information and looking for their next potential partner. You greet prospects that stop by your booth and conduct your own screening to decide if they are “dating material.” If it’s a fit, well—things start to get a little more serious. Maybe you plan to meet face-to-face, or schedule a call or demo. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship. Then again, it could also end up being as dramatic and heartbreaking as The Bachelor. But no need for a box of tissues just yet. Let’s take a look at the top four areas that will help you win at trade show speed dating:


1. Screen, Screen, Screen. In a typical dating setting, you can’t be too careful. You want to screen potential dates beforehand. The same is true with trade show speed dating. At the booth, you want more than just contact information. After all, that tells you nothing about the prospects other than how to reach them. You need more qualifying information to know whether they are “hot dating material.” When you screen your leads, here’s some of the important information for you to learn and record:

    • Is this a decision maker?
    • What’s their job title? 
    • What’s their buying timeline?
    • What’s their pain points?
    • What’s their budget?
    • What deal size would this be?

By tracking answers to qualifying questions like these, you can decide whether a prospect is a hot lead, warm lead, or cold lead. Otherwise, you’ll be flying in blind, without any idea which prospects have the highest potential. 


2. The SPEED in Trade Show Speed Dating Matters. Normally, nothing screams desperation like calling immediately after you meet someone. But in the trade show world, there’s no such thing as desperation. If it’s a match (made in trade show heaven), then you want to reach out to the prospect before your competitors. There’s nothing worse than losing out on a great potential partner because someone else called first. Or because that prospect loses interest and moves on. For best practice, you should reengage with a smoking hot prospect within 72 hours. That is the optimal window for effective follow up and closing deals. 


3. Get Up Close and Personal. Nothing says “I love you” like chocolate, flowers, and relevant reengagement. After screening your leads, you want to reach out to the hottest leads first—and you want to use the data you collected to reengage in a relevant way. Imagine calling someone and not remembering a single part of your conversation, even the juicy parts. Talk about awkward for both you and the prospect! Rehashing entire conversations does nothing to show how “committed” you are to a future partnership. You can better engage and interact with the prospect if you follow up post-show with relevant information collected at the booth. If your goal is to move forward and build a strong relationship, then relevance is your best bet.


4. Every “Date” Is Different. Last but not least, remember to tailor your conversation and follow up to each specific lead. Every potential partner you meet at the booth is at different stages of their buyer’s (or dating) journey and will have different expectations. For example, some prospects will be more at the researching stage of their journey; they will avoid commitment right away until the relationship develops further. Other prospects might be at the vendor-selection stage and will commit with whoever they decide is the best fit. For each type of prospect, you will want to talk directly to their current state. Using one generic pitch (or pick-up-line) will scare some potentially great prospects away. For best results, you should:
    • Create multiple email campaigns
    • Craft a variety of deliverables
    • Use qualifying information for relevant reengagement post-show

With these methods, you can meet each prospect’s expectations and ultimately seal the deal.  


Dating is tough. Fortunately, trade show speed dating doesn’t need to be with the right tools and strategies. Lead qualifying, fast follow up, relevance, and meeting buyer’s expectations are critical components of capitalizing on hot opportunities at shows. With these four best practices, you will up your game and win more dates—sorry, deals.