Making it Rain: Successful Exhibitor Strategies for Tradeshow Lead Management
We see all shapes and sizes of exhibiting companies in our work supporting the end-to-end tradeshow lead management process. There are varying levels of complexity, investment, and experience. They range from a handful of shows to hundreds. We learn something from each of them. One of the largest and most complex is also one of the most successful exhibitors we’ve seen in action.
There is a lot to learn from this large global company that invests heavily in tradeshows for business development. We thought we would recap some of the most powerful tricks of the trade we observed through our work with them as a model for other successful exhibitors.
9 Best Practices of a Highly Successful Exhibitor
1. Start with the end in mind
Set specific goals with measurable metrics, and identify the strategies and tactics that can or will achieve the goals. For example, If your goal is to increase leads captured in the booth by a significant percentage over the status quo, what needs to happen? Seek new solutions to enable new results. Our model exhibitor ran a pilot for a full year and applied the learning prior to roll-out.
2. Pilot before launch
Don’t feel like new ideas or solutions are all or nothing. If you select the right partners, prioritize and plan strategically, the right beta test can help you work out the kinks and execute with confidence and precision when it’s time for the full roll out.
3. Prepare ahead for efficiency in real-time
In order for something to be very fast and simple, it sometimes takes complicated effort to set up. Even the small details can make a difference when the attendees (ideally) start storming the booth. Instead of relying on a traditional business card shuffle, the exhibit managers at this company supplied the booth team with tools to capture, qualify and deliver leads to CRM in real-time.
4. Facilitate consistency across initiatives to flatten the learning curve
Running hundreds of shows could mean working with hundreds of different systems. This savvy exhibitory found a way to use one process to work with any show system, so their team on the show floor only needs to know one lead management process, and the managers behind the scenes know they will get results they can consolidate and compare across all of their initiatives.
5. Provide the tools and training your team needs to succeed
This successful exhibitor did not leave the “showtime” process to chance. They assessed the needs of the team, set expectations, outlined and tested the process, and held the team accountable. It helps that they picked tools that are easy to use, but even that is not a guarantee without the right attention to training and shared goals.
6. Automate processes that enable human interaction
When exhibitors rely on their sales and booth staff to handle everything manually, it can slow them down. They risk lost information, missed opportunities, and a frustrated team. If you can find a technology that takes some of that burden off the field team, they will be free to have personal interactions, ask great questions and document answers to make them actionable.
7. Track/measure everything and adjust accordingly
We’ve seen so much of traditional tradeshow activity played by ear. Exhibitors highlight what they want to feature and often spend too much time talking to people they already know. This exhibitor succeeded by deciding not to rely on their gut. They found advanced, intelligent sensors that allowed them to map attendee traffic in and around their booth, understand the areas that were most engaging, and even know how many of the passing attendees stopped or stayed. There are many other metrics, but this was powerful enough to truly change the game.
8. Collect insight from multiple sources for richer data
Don’t settle for one metric at a time. We saw this company put the data together to provide deeper insights that they could act upon in real time and at future tradeshows.
9. Prioritize actionable results
It’s great to collect cards, scan cards, ask questions, and have conversations. But watching these pros in action demonstrated clearly that there’s more to the tradeshow game than just gathering information. It needs to get all the way to your lead management system, whether that’s a CRM system or a spreadsheet. It needs to be documented, sharable, and importantly, actionable. Will it go into a drip nurture campaign, or should you call them today? Find a way to enable action and execute it.
How We Know it Works: Representative Results
The exhibitor successfully beat their lead capture goal by 300%!
- 7543 attendees passed the booth during the 5 days (2115 returned)
- 4038 engaged by stepping into the booth (785 returned)
- Average “dwell time”: 16 minutes 24 seconds, with nearly half that time measuring as “engaged”
- 1350 leads captured (2900 leads after lead-multiplier processing)
- Passing to Engaged Attendees: 54%
- Attendees captured: 33%
- Engaged Attendees to pre-qualified Leads: 72%