Qualifying Trade Show Attendees: Develop a Process

Trade shows are more than just networking events; they are a nexus of opportunity for businesses seeking to broaden their client base and market presence. The effectiveness of participation in these events largely hinges on the ability to qualify visitors efficiently. This skill ensures that the time and resources expended are focused on potential clients who have the highest likelihood of evolving into profitable and lasting business relationships. The art of lead qualification at trade shows involves discerning the potential of each contact to become a valuable customer.

Understanding Lead Qualification

The concept of a “qualified lead” is sometimes misinterpreted. It’s not just about collecting a business card or contact details. A lead becomes “qualified” when they align with your specific buyer profile and demonstrate a present or future requirement for your product or service. This differentiation is vital in trade show environments where a high volume of interactions occur. Understanding the nuanced difference between a simple contact and a qualified lead can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts.

Four Basic Steps to Efficient Lead Qualification:

Establish a Target Profile

Before engaging at a trade show, define your ideal customer. Consider factors like industry (which industries are your organization able and not able to serve), geographic location (which geographies are your organization able and not able to serve), business size (can a business be too small or too large to effectively use your services), and decision-maker roles (is the prospect somebody that is able to make a purchasing decision on your offering).

This targeted approach ensures a focused and efficient lead qualification process, and will help your team craft your qualifying questions when engaging with booth traffic.

Determine Qualifying Questions

Prepare a set of straightforward questions based on the ideal customer profile you have created. Questions should not only ensure that the prospect is in your addressable market per the target profile, but can also uncover the lead’s urgency, budget cycle, current solutions, and interest in follow-ups. Remember, simplicity aids in rapid qualification on the busy trade show floor.

Current solutions are a good early talking point, as most attendees will be quick to explain their dissatisfaction with their current provider, or will explain why their current provider is great. Both of these responses provide addressable information, and allow for a smooth transition into further qualifiers.

Have a Lead Capture Solution

It is easy to think “I’ll remember that person,” but after days of exhibiting and countless interactions, details that were committed to memory get lost. Consistently and thoroughly document lead information, ideally directly into your CRM system or via a lead capture app. This approach ensures real-time data entry and facilitates later analysis across various team members. Opt for a badge scanner if available, as it is the most efficient method of acquiring contact information (and you will be able to import these contacts into your CRM), or use a tablet to allow prospects to submit information.

Booth Training and Assessment

Training booth staff is crucial. They should be well-versed in your lead qualification criteria and engagement strategies. Best practices for attracting and retaining booth visitors should be shared, combining personal touches with professional conduct. Adapt as the show continues. Booth staff should use any downtime to discuss questions and product features that have most strongly resonated with prospects.

To successfully qualify leads at a trade show, focus on identifying your ideal targets, developing a clear set of qualifying questions, planning effective data capture methods, and training your team to engage meaningfully with booth visitors. This approach not only qualifies leads but also fosters relationship development, facilitating followup from your sales team.

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