Quality Vs. Quantity: Find the Right Balance in Your Trade Show Lead Generation


Quality vs quantity lead generation at events

Quality vs. quantity. It’s a timeless debate. The same is true for lead generation at trade shows and events. What’s the best measurement of trade show success: the number of leads your reps collect, or the quality of those leads?

The answer likely depends on your mentality for trade show attendance. Some companies attend trade shows for lead generation, others primarily for branding and forming connections. For branding purposes, quantity makes sense. After all, the more names you market to—and the more people you interact with—the better.

If you attend trade shows for lead generation, this debate becomes much simpler. If you want to close deals, you also prefer sales-qualified leads. Leads with a clear pain point and who are ready to buy now. This type of lead has a much higher chance of resulting in a sale than someone who stops by for free swag. In this case, you would rather have one SQL than fifty names of people trying to win an iPad. 

Of course, there’s a third option we cannot overlook: perhaps you are a company that attends various events and shows for different reasons. Some events you focus on branding, others you aim to close deals. So how do you maintain the careful balance of quantity but also quality leads?

At the end of the day, events are a huge investment. If you want a return on that investment, if you want to gather leads that turn into real sales opportunities, you need to make a change to your current lead capture process.


Stop Treating Sales Leads the Same

If you are scanning leads or collecting business cards and putting them all in one bucket, you are sabotaging your event success. Why? Because you cannot treat all leads the same.

A sales rep’s worst nightmare is a pile of business cards on their desk post-show. No order, no notes, no priority. For the next few days, he will need to sift through the cards and make cold calls at random. He hopes that someone in this pile came by the booth for something other than a free t-shirt. But after a dozen calls with nothing to show for it, the rep will think they are all garbage leads. He will move on to other prospects, leaving the business cards for “another day.” Because there’s no prioritization, with all the leads put in the same bucket, the hot leads end up lost. 

Instead of lumping leads together, you should sort leads by hot, warm, and cold (or your equivalent) in the booth. Then post-show your reps will know what leads to follow up with first. After all, 50% of the time, the first company to follow up with a lead post-show closes the deal. Lead sorting will help your reps reengage with the hottest leads before they lose interest or buy from your competitor. To automate the process, a mobile lead capture solution can segment a high volume of leads in a fast and seamless way. 


Stop Treating Marketing Leads the Same

On the marketing side, leads are at different stages in the buyer’s journey. So putting them in one nurture campaign is a giant mistake. For example, say you stopped by a booth and expressed interest in Product B. Later that day you receive generic emails about the company’s main product, Product A. What will happen? You’ll lose interest fast. And you can bet all your prospects will do the same if you send them generic auto emails. 

Leads will also be receptive to different messages depending on where they are in the buyer’s cycle. For example, for a SQL you could focus on selling the product, while a less qualified lead you focus on the “why” behind your product. Establishing separate campaigns that mirror your lead segmenting (hot, warm, cold) will help you better engage with each audience. You can also tailor nurture campaigns by pain point or product interest. 

Even if your main focus is branding, you still must market effectively. Personalized nurture campaigns leave a lasting impression on the prospect. This in turn makes a huge difference in branding efforts. After all, no one identifies with generic, robotic auto emails.


Don’t Overlook Small Shows

Sometimes the biggest and brightest shows suck up all our attention. And as a result we overlook the small tabletop events and conferences. Due to the lower number of attendees, small shows may not add much value for branding. But for lead generation, small shows pay off. They cost less to prepare for and attend. And while you collect less leads at smaller shows, the leads you do gather pack quite a punch.

With a smaller gathering, the attendee list is also much more selective. For some conferences, especially in the medical industry, you need certain credentials to attend. This is perfect for meeting pre-qualified, high priority prospects. You may only get one or two leads, but you can bet those leads are worth contacting post-show.


When it comes down to it, you can aim for quality leads without forfeiting quantity. With lead sorting and an automated lead capture solution, you can target quality leads, regardless of quantity. At both small and large events, lead segmentation will help your teams focus. Sales to reach out to the hottest leads first, and marketing to more effectively brand and target prospects in campaigns. Through this process, you will better balance lead quantity and quality, as well as boost your event ROI.