What’s the Deal with Trade Show Leads?

Here’s what happens after most trade shows and events:

Marketing comes back and says, “Wow! Look at all the leads we collected at the booth! We did a great job!” Then they distribute those leads to their sales reps and move on to the next event. 

A sales rep gets the leads and starts to go through them.  The first lead is only a name and some contact information. The rep says, “That doesn’t help me at all. This isn’t much better than a cold call! I’ll take a look at the next one.” 

The next one is the same. The rep shuffles through the leads, asking, “Are there any real leads in here, or all they just a bunch of contacts that happened to walk by our booth?” Then the rep gives up. 

Meanwhile, somewhere in that stack of leads, there are some hot, ready-to-buy leads that the rep never calls. 

Sound familiar? 

Let’s face it, there’s a disconnect between what the marketing team considers a lead and what the sales team considers a lead. And until both sides—sales and marketing—agree that there is a major difference between a pile of contacts and SQLs, your sales rep will keep saying, “Trade show leads are garbage.”

And if sales thinks your trade show leads are garbage, your ROI from trade shows will be garbage too. So, how do you get sales and marketing on the same page when it comes to leads? 

Hot and Cold LeadsAt every trade show, you collect different types of leads: 

  • Cold—Those that are just there for the free swag and/or to stop and chat with everyone and anyone. Or they’re still trying to understand their pain and the solutions available. These go into a nurture campaign.
  • Warm—They may or may not make a purchase in the near future and are scoping out their options. Typically, they are aware of their pain and are gathering more information before selecting a solution.
  • Hot—They are on a mission to solve their pain as soon as possible and believe your product can/will help. Also known as Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).

The goal is to walk away from an event with as much information for each lead as possible—rating, segmentation, prioritization. This allows you to get the sales team on the phone with the hot leads ASAP, and the other leads you can put into a nurture campaign to guide them through the buyer’s journey. 

The problem with most trade show lead capture processes is that they treat every lead the same. This is what happens when you do that:

  • The sales team considers the leads trash
  • You run the risk of the hot leads never getting called
  • Your company wastes money on expensive and time-consuming trade shows
  • Sales and marketing blame each other for the event failure

Let’s avoid that result!

There are a few different systems you can use to sort your leads at shows. With a mobile lead capture solution, your leads will be automatically sorted and sent to your CRM during capture. You can also use paper or digital forms to manually sort your leads. Since we want to ensure the booth staff’s prioritization process isn’t just based off their “gut feeling,” you should create a formal process. Here’s the steps you should take with either platform:

  1.  Ask your best sales reps, “What are the three most valuable data points that would help you re-engage effectively after the event?” For example, prospect’s pain points, product interest, and new/current client.
  2.  Construct a list of predefined answers that your booth staff can quickly choose from.
  3.  Use paper or digital forms to enable quick recording of these key data points for each lead.

Once you have captured this information, you now have specific, quality information on each lead. This way both marketing and sales can differentiate cold, warm, and hot leads, and sales can call those hot leads first. By this simple switch of sorting and qualifying leads during capture, your leads will go from “trash” to “gold” in the eyes of the sales team.

And, at the end of the day, your ROI will be gold too.