Best Practices for Following Up After the Trade Show

Having a solid follow-up plan is one of the most important parts of your overall trade show strategy. Your follow-up strategy should directly correlate with the original goals and objectives set during the initial planning process. Too often we find exhibitors don’t have the necessary sense of urgency or a well thought-out plan to successfully follow-up on the leads obtained at the show. In fact, according to Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), 80% of tradeshow leads receive no follow up at all, which is why having a good follow up plan is imperative to your company’s success at the show.

There are several different ways to capture a lead  on the show floor and the follow-up method will be the same no matter how they were collected. The most important thing to keep in mind is that leads are time sensitive.

Common Lead Follow-up Methods

  • Phone call
  • Email — this can even be directly from the show floor if you are using interactive technology
  • Direct mail
  • Mail follow-up packets — include a thank you letter, catalog, informational brochures, special offers and maybe even a company branded give-away (people love freebies). Have these prepared before the show to get them out quickly after.
  • Schedule appointments directly from the show floor.

Keep in mind that the follow-up process starts on the show floor with making sure the leads are organized and qualified correctly. Having the booth staffers make good notes on what the lead was interested in, buying timeline, and purchasing credentials will help identify leads as hot or cold. Using a score card is also a good way to make sure they are being qualified correctly. Hot leads need to be followed up on immediately, within 48 hours of the show.

Lead Follow-up Timeline

  • Send a simple thank you email 1-2 days after the show.
  • Follow up with a phone call to schedule a face to face appointment 1-2 weeks after the show.
  • Extend a personal invite to an open house or corporate seminar at your facility 2-3 months after.
  • Send special offers to earn their business 6-12 months after the show.

Lead Follow-up Tips

  • Have a meeting with follow up staff to clearly communicate timeline and expectations.
  • Emails should have a recognizable subject, such as "Here is the information you requested at (show)."
  • Emails should also include the value your company will add to their program, your solution to a problem they are currently having, why your product/service/company is superior, a call to action, and a product/service overview.
  • Put all potential leads into the CRM tool your company uses for future use.
  • Hold your sales reps accountable for actually following up with the qualified leads generated on the trade show floor.
  • Don’t start the follow up conversation with a sales pitch. Start with referencing the conversation you had with them on the sales floor (this is where those notes will really come in handy)

Lead Response Management states that the best day to contact leads is on Wednesday or Thursday between the hours of 4pm and 6pm.

When following up, doing so in a short amount of time is crucial. Prompt follow up should lead to more sales.   Also, organizing your leads into categories based on importance will help you get the most return on investment from your trade show.