Don’t delay, make your move

14/09/2018 - 09:16


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Opinion: Making the step from a trade show to a sale requires pre-planning, and speed is of the essence.

Don’t delay, make your move
Go into a trade show with plans in place to follow-up leads. Photo: Stockphoto

Opinion: Making the step from a trade show to a sale requires pre-planning, and speed is of the essence.

What’s your strategy after the trade show or exhibition is over? How quickly do you follow up?

There are companies and salespeople who email quotes, confirmations and copies of orders directly from their exhibit booth to the office of the prospect or customer. That’s fast.

As competition gets fiercer, speed becomes a lethal weapon. Better put, the lack of speed can be fatal in the selling process. How fast you respond to your trade show leads will be the measure of your success. If you’re not following up within three days, your competitor has beaten you to the punch (and sale).

If you got 200 leads from the show, here are some ideas on how to convert them into sales. Many of the methods and techniques listed here are things you should have done weeks before the trade show took place.

If you find yourself in the large group of people who didn’t make follow-up plans before the show, make following up an integral part of pre-show planning the next time you exhibit. Not only will pre-planned follow-up increase your results, it will help you improve the way you generate leads on the trade show floor.

If you have difficulty following up, the answers to these questions will tell you why.

• Do you have a game plan that was finished before the trade show started?

• Do you have blank business cards? Turn your business card leads over; if there’s nothing written on them, your ability to follow-up effectively is diminished.

• Do you have a lead sheet or questionnaire that was filled out at the show?

• Do you have a script ready for your follow-up contact with prospects?

Here’s how to succeed at trade show or business fair follow–up.

• Define your follow up program before the show. Make sure the information you’re gathering matches the information needed for effective follow-up.

• Meet immediately after the show and review every lead.

 Organise leads by type of follow-up and each prospect’s level of interest.

• Draft a short, creative, follow-up letter. Email or call every contact within three days.

• Have a scripted first contact that is creative, and ties back to the information given or gained from the show.

Try these opening lines if you write an email, with the aim of getting attention and creating a response.

• The business fair presented me an opportunity to meet you. I’d like to get to know you better...

• We can help! From the information you provided us in the questionnaire, we can...

Try these opening lines on the phone.

• Jim, I had an idea about your business after we spoke, but couldn’t find you again at the fair. What have you thought about... (or how is your company currently using...)

• Jim, I couldn’t wait until the trade show was over to get back to you. I’ve been thinking about...

• I wanted to get together with you a few minutes to show you some things about XYZ that I didn’t get a chance to address at the business fair. I could do it in less than five minutes. When is good for you?

Create your own lines. Find one or two that work and use them on everyone.

Your entire objective is to get to the next step in your selling cycle. Most of the time it’s an appointment. Whatever it is, focus on completing that step only. Salespeople tend to overshoot the situation and sell too much, too quickly. This makes the prospect nervous and defensive.

Monitor and measure your results. Evaluate your weekly results for two months. This will help you determine the cost per sale and whether or not you will be going back to exhibit next year.

Make sure to catalogue the:

• number of live prospects captured at the event;

• number of appointments seen this week;

• number of new appointments on book (for next week);

• number of pending sales – approximate value; and

• number of actual signed contracts – amount.

After the business fair or trade show is over, it’s a horse race to the sale. How well you train, how well you’re bred, and who’s riding you, will determine the winner of the race.

If you haven’t done your follow-up within three days of the show, your competition has.

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development. 



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