This step is all about making sure you are collecting the right data from your prospects.
There definitely is a “sweet spot” when it comes to collecting data at tradeshows – collecting business cards is the base line, and the other end of the spectrum is an electronic badge scanner with an additional 5-10 fields that you are required to fill out before it lets you save it!
This post is part of a series of 17 steps to mastering your trade show ROI. If you haven’t already seen in you need to go back to the first post in the series that covers your goals and objectives. While you can take the information in this single post by itself and improve your results - you will have far greater success if you approach it like a mini course and move from one step to the next.
Both of these extremes have their disadvantages… in most cases a business card is simply not enough information to be able to do anything worthwhile with, and asking too many questions on the other end will likely turn a prospect off and they’ll either give you false information or just walk away.
If you are not doing anything else – collecting business cards is better than nothing at all… but that’s not what we want for you – we want you to be the most successful exhibitor at the show generating ROI’s upwards of 500%. Collecting business cards is not going to give you that result!
The 6 essential fields that you will always need to record are:
- Phone (Preferably Mobile – and I’ll give you some tips on how to get that in a moment)
- Mailing address
These are typically available from a business card and you should always be recording this even if they aren’t your ideal client. You will never know where that person may end up. Even if they aren’t a good fit now - their circumstances may change and if you haven’t got their details or haven’t given them yours – you could be losing out.
The next set of data fields should only be recorded against the leads who pass your “Ideal Prospect” criteria. More on that here...
Depending on the tradeshow and your industry, some on these can be safely “assumed” and you don’t have to actually ask for them. This is more so in the case of small highly targeted industry specific shows where all visitors are registered and it's not open to the public. Recording these 3 elements will give you much greater clarity in your follow-up and as a result will give you much higher response rates.
- Product/Service interested in
- How your product/service helps them
The next open-ended questions are key to determining where in the buying cycle or decision-making process this visitor be situated. They can be adjusted depending on specific situations and industries but the core should remain the same. Remember that we have already filtered our visitors in the initial opening conversation, so these are only getting asked of pre-qualified prospects.
The answers you need to find out are:
- Why did you attend the show?
- What is your need that our product fills?
- Preferred contact method
- When does your need require fulfilment?
- Who needs to be involved in the decision making?
Work these questions into your conversation process rather than making a point of going through a list of questions. No one like to be interrogated but everyone loves to tell stories. Prompt your prospects into telling a story that answers your questions.
Just remember – each business and industry is different – you need to work out what data points you need to record to be able to get the most out of the show. You may not need everything we've discussed, or you may need more detailed responses. Either way, just make a start with working out exactly what it is that you need.
A really useful way to make it a simple job on the day is to work through your target areas and decide how much you want to segment your prospects. Create segments and work your questions so that each prospect ends up in one of 4 or 5 categories or buckets. No matter what you are using to record the leads – it makes it very easy to circle or select from a list of buckets than to write or type out lengthy answers. This may not work with complicated industries or business models but is well worth considering if you can.
The best leads should always contain information about how to follow up. Some visitors will prefer to receive a phone call within a week, and others will prefer email. This information is generally not available with badge scanners, but is essential to improving your conversion rates.
So the next question that inevitably comes up is what software or tools should we be using to record these answers…? Well there are many ways to do that.
Some companies have no trouble using paper forms and writing out the answers to each visitor and get amazing results. There is no right or wrong – do what you are comfortable with. If you are a good fast writer and everyone can understand what you write – then stick with paper. If you are an IT savvy person – use an app on a tablet or even something as simple as MS Excel.
Whatever you choose to use just keep these points in mind:
- The paper form or app needs to be understood by anyone on the team. If you fall sick the day after (from all that partying on the last night…!) then someone else needs to be able to step into your lead collection and make sense of it immediately. (The party thing isn’t a good idea either just so you know!)
- You have to be able to record the information fast – the last thing you want is a prospect walking away in disgust because you have to stand there and type or write out everything they say. If you are fast at writing – write, if you are fast at typing then type… if you are not fast at either – use an app that has single click buttons that record what you need to know using the buckets!
- You should be able to email each lead the same day or at the latest the following day.
The email addresses need to be entered into your marketing platform and sent a basic “thank you for visiting” email with maybe some further reading or value for them based on what interest group you put them into.
- The data has to go into your CRM system the same or next day. If you are using paper this could mean having an assistant onsite doing the data entry for you – or you could do it in the evening after the expo closes. There is nothing worse than having a prospect call the office straight after the show and there is nothing on them in the CRM – you have to quickly go hunting for the piece of paper you were going to enter up as soon as you got back to the office… yeah we all know what it's like!
Some apps can connect direct to your CRM but mostly you will need to export and import them in. either way you have to make sure this happens quickly or you lose your advantage fast.
A couple of online options that are worth checking out are; www.quicktapsurvey.com and http://www.icapture.com. Always check with the event organiser to see if they are using a lead retrieval system first before making any decisions on what to use.
When you do decide on a method – ensure it is part of your staff training to learn it well in advance so you don’t waste that valuable time on the show floor struggling with technical challenges.