ACCORDING TO SKYLINE POLL, LEAD GENERATION IS THE #1 goal for 85-90% of trade show exhibitors.
But if your booth staff is doing no more than scanning badges or gathering business cards, they’re mostly just gathering cold prospects that later has to go through the warming process. Your job as a trade show marketer is to ensure you’re providing valuable, actionable leads to the sales team. In order to do that, here is what you need to do.
Get Sales Team Input First
What constitutes a qualified lead? If staffers are asking attendees for information that doesn’t matter to the sales team, your efforts on the trade show floor will be wasted. Tap the reps early in the process to find out the information they like to collect from prospects.
“CHAMP” is the methodology that we will elaborate here:
RESOLVE THEIR Challenges
Determining the attendee’s NEED is the first order of business. “Your prospect buys things because they have a challenge,” Atiim, Inc. founder Zorian Rotenberg writes in a blog post. “[Challenges] are the first fundamental part of sales qualification.” In other words, pay attention to the attendees' pain points
1. What brought them to the trade show?
2. What needs do they have that currently aren’t being met?
3. How does that unmet need affect various people at the company?
4. What could their current vendors be doing better?
However, be aware that a lot of times, your attendees will not be able to give you a comprehensive run down of their challenges. That is, why you need to pay attention to their Behavioral Social Data.
ASCERTAIN THE AUTHORITY OF THE VARIOUS RANKS Among THE Attendees
This is arguably the toughest (yet most critical) thing for a rookie booth rep to determine. The person with buying authority is quite often NOT the person who asks the most questions, nor the trade show attendee with whom you develop the best rapport.
Conventional wisdom states that "spending too much effort on an attendee without purchasing authority wastes everyone’s time." Be cautious about it. Because, the person in question might not be a direct decision maker, but definitely an entity of influence. Else, he/she would not have been at the venue.
You job is to find out who the decision makers are at his or her company. Above all, what is his or her role is in the company. Your mission is to get to know as many people in the company that you are targeting and to stay engaged with them in the social channels after the show. By continually engaging, you are allowing your potential customers to influence and take part in the business of TRUST creation. And that is only half the story...
All this digital engagement creates Behavioral Social Data or often called, Intent Data that will be helpful to your potential buyers, when they are deciding on their vendors for their purchase.
GET AN IDEA ON HOW THEIR MONEY MOVES
While it can be difficult or even sometimes undesirable to talk money in the casual environment of a trade show, there are some budget questions that can be helpful to your sales team.
One of the most basic is if and when funds will be allocated to the attendee’s needs. Some buyers’ fiscal years match the calendar year, others start mid-year. Government buyers are often trying to use money by year-end, while academic buyers often make decisions in the spring. Just finding out how the budget signoff process works can be a huge asset to your sales team.
THE PAY OFF OF Prioritization
1. How critical is this need amid the attendee’s company’s other goals?
2. What’s prompting him or her to do something about it now?
3. What would happen if the issue is ignored, or a decision postponed?
Getting these answers helps your sales team know when, and how often, to follow-up with the lead.
THE QUESTIONS YOU ASK AND THE AWARENESS YOU BRING TO THE CONVERSATION IS KEY TO generating qualified leads
There are hundreds of ways to ask CHAMP questions of exhibit attendees, and no one way is right for every prospect, nor for every booth staffer. Role-playing in advance of the show can help your staffers refine their approach to match their personas, and to adjust their tactics “on the fly” depending on the responses received.
Here are some pointers that you need to keep in mind as you are conversing with your booth visitors. This will determine the quality of the lead.
During your conversation, your ears should perk up if your prospect tries to explain away previous inaction regarding business pain. "This indicates one of two things: either the excuse is legitimate, or your prospect wishes they had done something about it earlier and is trying to rationalize why they didn’t. Either way, it confirms their pain is real."
Knowledge Check is a key factor in establishing the quality of lead. A knowledge check is your best bet for qualifying at the stakeholder level. True decision makers will have intimate knowledge of company goals, challenges, and needs. A lead who doesn’t have access to this information likely isn’t going to be valuable in the immediate sales process.
APPRECIATE AND ACCENTUATE YOUR EXISTING CLIENTS
Nothing is more painful than overhearing an exhibitor mistakenly treat an existing customer like a cold prospect. Make sure staff is prepared to recognize these VIPs and to give them the warm welcome they deserve. Inquire about their current level of satisfaction and find out what, if anything, your team can be doing to better serve them.
After each show, meet again with the sales team to get their impressions of the leads your staff has collected. If there’s a quality control problem, it’s better to discover the root of it and make adjustments before you get too deep into your trade show season. With ongoing refinement, your team will secure better leads—and a better ROI—from your exhibits.
Imagine this: Your modular display booth is the stage where your booth staffers are the actors of your brand. Help them to succeed in their roles and you will see your brand flourish.
Because, the design of your booth could distinguish your brand, but it is your booth staffers that defines the difference of your brand.
Exhibiting is only the beginning!