Manufacturing Tradeshow MarketingIt’s less than 24 hours since the trade show ended. You are back at your desk with a pile of business cards. You know that you need to contact the people that you met, but what should you say? How should you contact them? When is the right time?

We’ve put together the 6 things that you need to know, and do, to make the days following your trade show effective.

1. Divide and Conquer

During the trade show, organize your prospects into different categories based on their interest level. Three levels is normally enough; Strong, Average and Weak. We recommend that you follow up with all of your prospects, but you will want to prioritize and contact your best prospects first. We recommend that you contact your strongest group of prospects within 24 hours of your first meeting. This means that if a trade show is a multi-day event, don’t wait until the end of the show. Go ahead and try to reconnect with them during the remaining days of the trade show. If they have left the show for any reason (maybe they were not exhibiting), make some calls during the day in your downtime. For the prospects that fall into the “average” or ”weak” categories, plan on following up with them immediately after you get back to your office.

2. Speed Is Essential For The Follow Up

One of the most important success factors after a trade show is the speed at which you make your next contact. The key is to reach the prospect within 48 hours from the last time you spoke with them. You will see a diminishing return on every contact made outside of that 48-hour window. If you wait a week, you can expect to have an over 60% drop in your ability to close a deal. Staying within the 48-hour timeframe means they will have a much better chance of remembering you. Moving quickly will also diminish the chances that a competitor will contact them before you do. Remember, you weren’t the only one at the trade show.

3. Don’t Go On Vacation After The Trade Show

Follow-up is the most important activity that you will be doing right after a big trade show. Don’t plan a family vacation immediately afterward. Don’t stay any longer than you need to. It doesn’t matter if you are in Vegas, Orlando, or Hawaii. Go back to your office, make calls and send emails. By setting time aside to follow up with all of your prospects immediately after the trade show, the time and money that you spent on your booth and hotel won’t be wasted. Likewise, don’t book staff meetings or ordinary sales meetings. Keep your schedule wide open so that you have time to do the follow-up that you need.

Remember, the people that you met at the trade show may be reaching out to you. It’s critically important for you to be available to take their calls.

4. Focus Your Energy On Targeted Prospects

At the trade show, you will find lots of opportunities to collect business cards and phone numbers. In fact, most trade shows will print a list of all of the vendors who attend. Fishbowls with giveaways will get you a bunch more. However, they won’t be your best source of leads. Instead, focus your energy on connecting with a few strong prospects. Trying to connect with too many people is a waste of time. The key to successful sales is building personal relationships with customers. If you don’t invest time in someone, and learn what their needs are, then it is unlikely that they will invest in your services.

5. Measure The Results

One of the most important things that you can do after a trade show is to track and measure the results. With companies attending dozens of trade shows per year, it is very easy to assume that all shows are equal. However, if you are planning on attending the same show again next year, then you will want to know which trade shows produced the highest ROI and the most leads. When you have returned from the show, review the goals that you set prior to the event. Review the number of leads you generated versus the amount of money you spent. By tracking your success, you can determine which trade shows are the most successful, thus helping to determine your show schedule for years to come.

6. Incorporate Inbound Marketing And Lead Tracking Into Your Presentation

We know that one of the keys to boosting your success rate is to follow up with someone quickly and consistently. However, follow-up doesn’t have to be by phone. You can make your follow up task much easier if you encourage people at the trade show to enroll themselves in your electronic lead nurturing system. By asking them to access a copy of your company’s catalog/whitepaper/eBook, via the web, instead of just handing them a hard copy of it at the trade show, you can automatically subscribe them into a lead nurturing and CRM system. A good lead nurturing system can be configured to begin contacting them with a series of emails encouraging them to learn about and take advantage of your services. We encourage you to compose your lead nurturing program to highlight three kinds of offers over a series of about 5 emails.