6 Keys to Managing & Nurturing Leads

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It’s an ongoing problem among exhibitors: too many carefully-gathered leads end up leading nowhere!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are simple steps you can implement to set your leads on the path to a long-term relationship with your company – and several of them can take place earlier than you may expect.

  1. It may sound crazy, but the first step actually happens before they’re officially a lead. While you’re having a conversation in your booth, take some time to prequalify them. Remember that a successful exhibit lead count is more about quality than quantity. Be sure that those names are not just tire-kickers or freebie-seekers, but genuinely-interested prospects.
  2. The next step should also take place before the show starts, and that’s to set up systems to make your follow-up more timely and consistent. Using some type of software to create automated drip campaigns as well as tracking the progress of your leads is essential to being efficient and not overwhelmed.
  3. While you’re talking with that visitor in your booth, be sure to get permission to stay in touch. That’s super-important in these days of privacy and GDPR, but it’s also just a smart business practice. I mean, who wants to be hounded or “stalked” by someone who only wants to sell them something? You want them to be assured that you will provide relevant, valuable information so they look forward to hearing from you.
  4. Contact them in the timeframe you promised. This should go without saying, but too often leads get lost in the shuffle and people who are expecting to receive answers or additional information hear nothing. That’s not the way to start off a relationship! Going back to the idea of having a system … that’s a great way to be sure you’re staying on top of things. Pre-design a follow-up e-mail template, so that all you need to do is plug in a few specific details for each visitor, which brings us to …
  5. Personalize your follow-up to whatever degree possible. That means not only addressing them by name (a given!), but also sending content based on their specific interests and needs. Listen and pay attention when you’re talking with them in the booth!
  6. Use multiple channels for nurturing them over time. We often tend to focus on e-mail communications, but there are so many other tools available: text messages, social media, postal mail, phone calls, and more. But don’t simply blast out the same thing in every channel. Use whatever makes sense for the specific content you’re sharing, whether that’s sending a report or checklist, hosting a webinar or livestream, mailing them physical samples, or something else. Become their primary source for knowledge on your specific topic.

The whole idea is to develop a sequence of communications that leads them along the path from casual interest to loyal client. According to a Forrester Research report, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent less cost, and those nurtured leads also spend more.

Instead of “leads,” try viewing them as “future friends and customers,” and let that guide your follow-up processes. Enlighten, entertain, educate and encourage them. Design every communication to be an extension of the initial conversation you had in the booth, guiding them through the buying process and into a two-way beneficial relationship.

© 2018 Marlys K. Arnold (reprinted from the September 2018 TradeShowTips Online – To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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