Tradeshow Tonic

Poll: How does your peers manage trade show leads?

Published on Feb 19, 2015 3:13:59 PM

Multi Ethnic People's Hands Raised with Speech Bubble

Skyline polled over 600 webinar participants in 2014 asking them how they manage their trade show leads. 38% said they collect attendees’ business cards, while 25% said they rented a lead machine at the show. 18% said they use an iPad, tablet or laptop to manage their leads, and 17% said they bring their own paper lead card and write down the information. In this post we will analyze each one of these main lead management tools and also profile some of the best lead management apps on the market.

Collecting Business Cards

Although the most popular option in our poll, many lead generation professionals see problems with this method. According to Barry Siskind, President of the International Training and Management Company, there are a number of problems with this:

  1. The back of a business card is small and therefore restricts the amount of information you can record. It also means that without a formal recording tool, business card leads are inconsistent from one to the next. This puts your salespeople or dealers and reps at a disadvantage when they follow up because they know very little about the contact before they make the call.
  2. Many companies print on both sides of their business card. If you had planned to write information on the business card, you are now stuck.
  3. Many companies use electronic business cards. Now you are really stuck.
  4. Many cultures take great pride in their business cards and it might be a personal offence to write on the back.

Rent a Lead Machine

Lead machine rental was the tool of choice for 25% of those that responded to our poll. There are several types of lead machines available to rent from desktop models, PC-based, mobile devices (not cell phones), and mobile phone apps. Each one has its own advantages:

  1. Desktop Lead Machines have a simple drop and record design and a 100% badge read rate. They are small in size and very lightweight. Exporting data can be done with a simple USB download.
  2. PC-Based Lead Machines automatically transfer the data to the exhibitor’s laptop, where you can automatically qualify leads with any lead management software (as well as edit the information). You can also create extensive lists and add unlimited notes to each record.
  3. Mobile devices are lightweight, handheld devices that are similar to a cell phone. No electricity is required and you can capture leads from anywhere on the show floor (or outside the show hall if you meet a prospect at dinner or at an event).
  4. Cell phone app’s are very popular today and like a mobile device, you can capture leads anywhere by simply entering a badge number or email address. Most apps also have custom options that allow you to create new fields and do custom exports.

Use an iPad, Tablet or Laptop
18% of trade show lead gatherers are using new technology like iPads, tablets and laptops. As you can imagine, there are several key benefits to using electronics (and the apps that you can download on them):

  • Instant data collection
  • Effortless lead retrieval
  • Create surveys
  • Showcase product videos and photos
  • Interactive games and giveaways
  • Demonstrate new electronic products
  • Provide product and sales information that is relevant

iPad, Tablet, Laptop and Cell Phone Apps

Below is a chart of the most popular lead management apps on the market today!

Where to buy: iTunes Store or Google Play



Paper Lead Cards

17% of respondents said that they use lead cards at their trade shows. A lead card is pre-printed piece of paper with sections to record contact info, answers to qualifying questions, and a notes section where you can record follow-up items and other relevant comments.  They are usually printed on half a sheet to a full sheet of 8 ½” x 11” paper.  To see an example lead card, click here.


To assist in your lead generation efforts at your trade show, read the Better Booth Staffing for Greater Trade Show Results book. This book is packed with tips and advice to equip your booth staffers with the tools they need to be the most efficient lead gatherers possible. 

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About the Author: Matt has been marketing, both as an employee and as an independent consultant, since 1998. He has worked for a large corporation, a mid-sized company, and a small consulting firm. He has also held many titles including marketing project coordinator, marketing analyst, marketing database specialist, database administrator, research analyst, public relations agent, communications consultant, proposal writer and database maintenance specialist. Most recently he has been working in database marketing, cloud marketing (SEO, SEM, SMM and website marketing), and as a CRM software administrator at Skyline Exhibits. In his spare time, he has been a volunteer football coach for over 15 years.

Topics: Art and Science of Lead Generation, Technology, Lead generation, Lead Managemnt

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