When you participate in a trade show, many types of people with different objectives will attend your booth. One of the most challenging aspects of running an exhibit and making sales afterwards involves the qualification of prospects. Measuring the likelihood that a random lead will result in a purchase is important because your sales team does not have an infinite amount of time to do their job. Your sales people have a limited amount of time to follow up on leads and wasting their day on a dead-end lead will squander your company's money.
The most important rule when qualifying prospects is to NEVER ignore anyone who comes to your booth. Even if someone looks like they aren't in the market to buy, you should still be polite and helpful. Someone who doesn't need your services may know a friend or colleague who does. However, you cannot afford to spend all day talking to people who are never going to make a purchase. Determining if your visitors are trying to educate themselves, make a purchase, or simply wander around, will help you to save time. Remember that it does not matter how big or popular a visitor's company is. A small business owner may buy a $30,000 display, while a Fortune 500 company representative may be looking for a cheap pop-up for their next event.
The best way to determine the quality of leads is to simply ask questions. The following questions will help you figure out who will be a legitimate source of revenue and who will drain your resources. You should ask:
-What do you like and what would you change about your current supplier?
-How do our products compare to the products of your current supplier?
-What information do you need to make a good decision?
-What are your main objectives and goals for your event?
-What is your primary concern when making a purchase?
-What are some challenges you have experienced lately?
-How do you decide which suppliers to work with?
-What specific products or services do you need?
-What do you think should be the next step?
Answers to these questions will not necessarily qualify a prospect, but you can gain an understanding of their current situation, mood and buying behavior based on their responses. Remember that people do not like to be drilled with questions, so try to be subtle when gathering all of this information.
Aside from these questions, you should also analyze your prospect to determine the final decision maker, their budget (don't ask directly, but feel it out), their timeline for making a decision, and if they are working with a competitor of yours. You can also make some valuable assumptions about a visitor's intentions by analyzing their tone of voice, level of interest, and body language. Use all of this information to make a reasonable decision about whether or not to focus your efforts on a visitor at your booth.
Sometimes, you can let your leads do the work for you. Set up an online form with a few short questions. You could also hand out hard copy forms at your event. The form could contain questions about what problems they are experiencing, what they think they need, how soon they need it, their primary decision criteria, and issues with current suppliers. You can then analyze their answers to determine if they are a genuine lead worth targeting. However, if those people even take the time to fill out a questionnaire, they are probably worth a serious follow up.
They may be difficult to spot, but investigative competitors may show up to your booth and you should be polite to them.