It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever worked a trade show before that attendee behaviour affects the quality of leads generated.

    • Ever been stuck in a dead-end corner?
    • How about next to a coffee area?

Exhibit Surveys published interesting data that showed, when combined with an average booth size of 312 per show, that the average amount of time per trade show attendee per exhibit is just under 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research notes that only 30% of firms collect detailed data from their visitors – with just under 2 minutes per visitor – is it any wonder why? Conversation quality will by necessity be low, and the expectation of collecting detailed demographics and purchase-cycle qualification data at he show is slim.

Realistic objectives are critical, supported by clear instructions to the exhibit team.

Trade-offs that might be considered include:

1. Speed of follow-up vs data thoroughness. Would you rather have your follow-up package delivered to your prospect, or detailed demographics and purchase-qualification data pre-entered for the convenience of your sales team? Data will be collected at some point in the future (pre-contract) anyway – is the busy show floor the best place to collect it? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Software is available to help you maximize this process at either stage.

2. Evaluating the use of the show management’s lead retrieval system could reduce ‘collection-pressure’ on booth staff, and free them up to ask the one, two, or three qualification questions that you’ve smartly designed, and trained your exhibit staff to ask of their visitors.

3. Beating the competition to the lead. CEIR’s data shows an average post-show follow-up time of 2 weeks. If your firm plans to collect business cards, transpose them manually into a CRM system, and still get fulfillment and follow-up information out the door to get onto the desk of your prospect before your competition, you must have a huge support staff. Challenge your system – look for efficiencies within existing processes – consider smartphone apps to move your data fulfillment to real time.

4. If the context of the show is viewed as ‘B2B speed dating’, the focus changes from ‘must-collect’ to ‘must-ask enough questions to develop a meaningful relationship with high-likelihood targets at a later date’. With effective exhibit-team training on your key-question set, you may just find that the shackles of the exhibit team are removed.