How to Qualify a Lead in the Trade Show Booth

How to Qualify a Lead in the Trade Show Booth

Once you’ve set your goals for leads at trade shows, you need to know how to qualify the leads you will count. There are 4 basic steps to qualify a lead in the trade show booth:

  1. Target Profile: know what/who you’re looking for
  2. Qualifying Questions: have a standard a list of simple questions containing key indicators
  3. Lead Capture: document the answers together with contact information in real-time
  4. Booth Training: train sales & booth staff to engage visitors in meaningful conversations

Definition, Preparation & Process Are Key

People often use the term “qualified lead” when what they really have is a contact, especially at a trade show. A contact is a person whose information you have in hand. A lead is a person who might be in a position to buy from you at a company that could benefit from what you’re selling. A “qualified lead” is one who is confirmed to fit your buyer profile and have a current or future need for your product or service.

It seems straightforward enough, but exhibitors fall short all the time. That’s because they’re lacking specificity in their plan and their approach. Let’s take a closer look at the secrets to successful trade show lead qualification and capture.

Target Profile: To Qualify a Lead, First Know What One Looks Like

Even if it’s true that “anyone” could use your product or service, you can’t invest in or sell to them all at once. You must prioritize and focus your efforts to optimize your Return on Investment (ROI). That requires data and strategy.

Targeting usually involves factors like industry, geography, size of the business, buyer and influencer roles and levels, and other uniquely important considerations for buying decisions on your product/service. Once you know what’s important, you will easily be able to back those details into a focused set of lead qualifiers.

Qualifying Questions: Seek Answers that Inform Next Steps

That leads us to the questions. Use your ideal customer profile to assemble a simple set of questions that will draw out the details needed to determine if someone is actually in your target market.

Include some assessment of urgency to help further qualify the lead in terms of temperature. That can be things like timing of annual budgeting, buying cycle, satisfaction with current solutions, and level of interest in follow up with demos, case studies, and white papers.

This is also a great place to ask for opt-in for future communications, to comply with Global Data Protection Requirements (GDPR) regulations.

Just a reminder, short and simple is best. When your team is on the trade show floor, they want to be able to qualify the leads and keep moving. Only require the information needed to qualify the lead, not extraneous “nice to know” information. One of the most common complaints from booth sales teams is the length of the qualifying questions. Keep it simple.

Lead Capture: Collect and Document Data Consistently

The next step is documenting the lead qualification information. Make sure you have a systematic, sustainable and consistent way to capture and share the qualifiers. For many, this is still noted on business cards in pockets, or worse, no notes on business cards collected in a fishbowl. Be careful not to leave them there.

Many sales teams are able to enter information directly into their CRM database via the CRM app. That’s putting it straight into the shared system, so a much better start. But you’ve still got a fair amount of manual entry that way.

Booth staff and sales professionals have found great value in integrating a simple lead capture app to scan badges or business cards, confirm information quickly, and answer custom qualifying questions. That way all the information is entered in real-time so you don’t forget or lose track. The additional benefit of this approach is that management has a way to evaluate across booth and sales staff to see overall engagement and conversion.

Booth Training: Goals, Approach & Engagement

Finally, an important step often missed is training. Corporate, marketing and/or sales leadership probably knows the target lead profile, lead qualification, and capture approach. That doesn’t mean that everyone staffing the booth knows or has internalized the information. Be sure THEY know exactly who they’re looking for so they can focus their time wisely on higher potential lead qualification.

Once trained, give them goals for lead qualification, capture, and engagement. Share best practices for drawing visitors into the booth and keeping them engaged through smart questions and active listening. It helps to be a little bit personal and stay professional.

Getting Started with Trade Show Lead Qualification

To do it right, qualifying a trade show lead should be simple, but not without effort. Determine your ideal target, generate a set of qualifying questions, plan how you will capture all of the lead information, including the qualifiers, and engage the people who visit your booth in ways that accomplish both qualification and relationship development.

Check out our Tradeshow Playbook & Toolkit to learn more.


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