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5 Tips for Acquiring and Converting Leads

Advice to help you attract leads at trade shows and turn them into customers

How can you get more and better leads?

 You may not have the biggest booth or the flashiest displays in the expo hall, but you can have a great lead nurturing strategy. A lead nurturing strategy combines scheduling and record-keeping with understanding your leads’ needs. It helps you stay organized, set priorities, and ease your leads toward buying from you.

1. Treat all attendees like valued customers.

You never know which visitors to your booth will become customers, so give each one a warm, friendly welcome.

Let’s call the typical attendee Alice. Chat with her about her work, her company, and the company’s problems; jot down what she says.

If your product can solve Alice’s problems, then demonstrate it. Ask her about her company’s purchasing budget, its buying process and schedule, and her role in the process. Finally, ask her if it’s okay for someone from your company to get in touch later and if she’d prefer email or a phone call.

Pro tip: Rehearse these conversations with your booth staff. “Conducting preshow staff training workshops the afternoon before the show opens is a proven effective best practice,” says Jefferson Davis, president of exhibitor training firm Competitive Edge.

2. Put leads in your customer relationship management system.

As soon as possible, put your notes about Alice — especially her full name, job title, company, and contact information — into a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

CRM systems are “all about speed, process streamlining, and accuracy,” says Pete Gillett, managing director of sales and marketing software company Zuant. Systems like HubSpot CRM and Salesforce organize data about leads, send it to your computer or phone, track your company’s interactions with the leads, and remind you to contact them.

3. Sort your leads into hot, warm, and cold.

For each lead you meet, jot down how “hot” the lead is.

• Hot leads have the funds, the authority, and the need for your products.

• Warm leads are interested in your product but don’t yet have the funds, authority, and need

• Cold leads aren’t interested in your product now but may warm up someday.

4. Follow up with the hottest leads fast.

If Alice is a hot lead, contact her as soon as you can — preferably before the show ends. This first contact can be a simple thank-you for visiting the booth plus an offer to help Alice solve her on-the-job problems.

With all the hubbub at the show, Alice may not remember her conversation with you. Check the notes about her that you entered in the CRM system for a memorable moment that you can mention to remind her of you. If you’re contacting Alice by email, you can include a photo of yourself and your booth.

When you’re done contacting hot leads, do the same thing with warm and cold ones.

5. Cultivate relationships with content.

Alice may not buy from you right away. Keep in touch to show that you’re thinking of her and that you want to help her succeed.

A good way to do it: Offer information. As Zuant’s Gillett says, “Content creation is key these days.” You can do like Hubspot and create an informative blog and useful webinars; or Salesforce, with videos showing how the company helps clients succeed; or Cisco, with a variety of media including an online comic book.

The road from the first meeting at a trade show through follow-up and content creation can take months — but when Alice is ready to buy, all of that lead nurturing will ensure that she’ll think of buying from you.

And that’s what a lead nurturing strategy is all about.