It is a staggering fact that somewhere in excess of 71% of exhibiting companies admit to failing to follow up their leads effectively. This ranges presumably from failing to be effective, to failing to follow up in a timely manner to ultimately failing to follow up at all. It is the equivalent of walking into a retail store, paying for your goods and walking out without your purchase. Or booking your holiday and failing to show up for your plane. Contractors often tell tales of how during the breakdown of an event they stumble across a rattling box, which once opened, reveal a pile of business cards collected and yet forgotten on the stand.

Think about your visitors and what they are used to. Would it be better to hire a light-pen or scanner and scan their badges or use a laptop or palm held device to capture their details? As with many consumer events, visitors do not have badges not even business cards, so a manual system may suit best. Remember the quicker and easier it is to fill in your form, the smoother and more pleasant it will be for your visitor. Record also any special details and timescales, who else they are considering and make a note of buying cycles or budgets. Amongst the best systems I have seen are those which additionally categorise their leads into some sort of urgency list (say a scale from one to ten for example). In this way when the leads are being followed up (and let’s face it, it is not always the stand personnel who subsequently follow up) the salespeople know whom to contact first. A good tip is to ensure everyone involved understands and adheres to the same rating system.

Exhibitors who are more on the ball than most also follow up their leads whilst the show is happening rather than waiting until the dust settles afterwards. All you need do is prepare a standard letter in advance of the event, which suits most enquiries, thanking them for visiting your stand that day and promising that Scroggins will contact them within the agreed timescale. These letters could be sent out each day to each of your visitors (be they faxed, posted or e-mailed). If you wish to enhance your green credentials you can also use this opportunity to direct them to your web-site or e-mail a brochure in the appropriate format for them to look at rather than sort through their over stuffed carrier bags for your literature.

Once the show is over, by all means copy and analyse and input your data, but you should also ensure a copy goes straight to the sales team. Some of the leads may be so hot that a more switched on competitor (or less analytic) could steal a march on you whilst you are still debriefing and sorting your prized leads!