Recently, Kris Kluver and Veronica Barrientos headed to Las Vegas to represent SMC at the IFA 2015 annual convention. They met hundreds of franchises, and returned the following Wednesday a little exhausted but satisfied with a stack of business cards.
So now what? Eighty percent of leads generated during trade shows are never followed up on. If this is true, then it is more important than ever that you are part of the other 20 percent. You did all the work networking and driving leads. Now, it is vital time to follow up on them.
The first thing you’ll want to do is research your leads. Take all of the contacts and business cards and compile them into a list. Rank them in order of importance. We suggest making a spreadsheet and transferring all the information onto one, easy-to-read page rather than having to continuously flip through business cards and notes.
Find out what they are interested in. What is their buying timeline? Their purchase credentials? Add all of these points to the sheet. Also include your notes from the show. If a contact asked you to call a different number, make note of that; if they asked you to send them an email and then call a week later, make note of this too.
With your foundation set, you can follow through on the rest of your timeline. Here’s what we recommend.
Days 1 and 2
Send handwritten thank you letters. Yes, we do live in the digital age, but even a social media company like us appreciates a handwritten note. Make it personal—include their first name, the name of the business, and an anecdote from your original conversation. (Hopefully you took notes at the trade show.)
Connect, connect, connect. This means using both your personal and your company’s social profiles to connect. Find each representative’s Twitter handle and start following their company’s Twitter feed. Connect with them on LinkedIn and like their company Facebook page. Then we also suggest adding all the contacts you made to your CRM software. That way, when you need their information in the future, you have them all in one easy-to-manage spot.
Days 3 and 4
Now, it’s time to send follow-up emails. Most of the contacts you made at the trade show probably traveled, and getting your feet back on the ground after a few days out of the office is tricky for everyone. So, as not to overwhelm or get lost among the floods of emails they will likely have to sift through, we suggest waiting three or four days until actually reaching out to them. (Note: Lead Response Management states that the best day to contact leads is on Wednesday or Thursday between 4-6 p.m.)
Send a letter. Note that you’ll send them a letter, too. Now it’s time to get a little more up close and personal. Here’s where you can include some open-ended suggestions—carefully worded, of course. Gauge their interest: Will you move forward with them? How soon? What packages (products) can you offer that will fit their needs? Then, make sure you offer a variety of ways for them to engage further with you, like white paper downloads, links to videos or blogs, etc. Whatever you do, be sure you let them know all the different ways they can choose to find out more.
Scheduling a face-to-face interview or a conference call. Talking with someone allows for quicker, more meaningful dialogue, which could take hours (even days) to complete via email. You can ask to schedule this in your email or letter.
The days after a trade show are critical—maybe even more than the trade shows because it’s when the deals get done. But remember, it is not a race. What’s even worse than not following up at all? Suffocating your leads. Give them some breathing room — they are analyzing the trade show, too.
A timeline is essential, so start preparing as soon as you get back. Research your leads extensively. You can never be too prepared. It’s all about leads becoming partners. Know enough about your leads before contacting them, and you’ll be able to nurture a relationship.
Photo credit: CC by ShashiBellamkonda