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David Chalmers: In Any Event

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David Chalmers
David Chalmers

David Chalmers

Exhibitions can be a great place to generate new business leads, but are you doing enough to capitalise on the opportunities? David Chalmers, senior marketing director, Europe, at Cvent gives his views in his latest In Any Event column.

The goldfish bowl of business cards

Most of us who have exhibited at a trade show have put out the goldfish bowl on the stand. Perhaps even dangled the carrot with a lucky prize draw, with the hope that by the show’s wrap the bowl will contain tens or hundreds of new business cards. A percentage of which will surely amount to a warm business leads for the sales team. Then the weeks pass and little business, if any has arisen. Where did it all go wrong? After all, you have a great sales team.

Maximise the potential opportunities to meet ahead of the show

Of course, generating leads doesn’t begin at the show. It starts much earlier. Don’t leave it to chance that people will pop by your stand on the day or you will bump into an important target over the course of the show.

You need to get the word out a good few weeks in advance. Email or social media campaigns are an obvious way to reach your prospects and existing warm leads. Do ensure that content is targeted and will elicit the best possible response. There’s nothing worse than receiving unsolicited email which has clearly given little thought about the recipient – a sure way to burn out any potential leads.

Do make sure that your content is compelling and gives a strong call to action for your prospects about meeting up at the show.

At the show – embrace 21st century strategies but make sure you get the timeless ones spot on

Enticing prospects with details about your products or services does not mean talking at them for five or ten minutes without pausing for breath! I’ve been on the receiving end of this approach too many times. Ask the right questions about their requirements and timing. Listen, listen and listen so your pitch is specific and will resonate.

Do make sure you are making the most of lead generation technology now available. Some of you may counter that using scanning devices should “do the trick” – however be aware that most of these devices have limited capability.
Simply having a list of enough of names who visited your stand isn’t enough to nurture leads which will cross the ‘finishing line’ and seal the deal.

Lead capture apps can provide a raft of useful information; scoring visitors on what they are looking to buy and record individual conversations. The rich data can then be integrated with a company’s CRM system and the sales team can be informed about the specific requirements of prospects before making calls post the event.

Following up leads

Don’t wait weeks to follow up on potential new business or a sale. Make sure your sales team are actively on the phone a few days or maximum a week after the Show. Do also make sure that the teams involved have read all the vital information aggregated via the lead capture app. Imagine the scenario many of us have faced when being passed from pillar to post over the phone talking to a technical support or customers services division. So much time is wasted having to reiterate the same information and in the end we end up frustrated, annoyed or wishing to never speak to the company again.

The same goes with leads – your prospect will want a seamless stream of personalised communication which picks off from the juncture of the show. The last thing they want to do is repeat the same information.

Adopting these new approaches, should see an upturn with the leads being converted and the goldfish bowl will be well and truly a thing of the past!

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