IFT Food expo is over, what now

The IFT Food Expo 2016 is over, what now?

The IFT Food Expo is over, but it doesn’t mean your work as an exhibitor is over. In fact, the most important part begins just now!

A good focused follow up is how you create customers, but it is the follow up where many exhibitors fall short.

Participating in a trade show is expensive. Companies spent a lot of effort and money to planning, design a booth, train staff, and, not the least, in attending the trade show itself. If everything went well, you might have come away from it with more leads than you can handle; which can result in a lot of lost opportunities and sales. Following the 5 steps below, will result in success.

1. Collecting all leads

You might have used the scanner provided by the tradeshow, but not all badges visitors are wearing have the correct contact information. And some of the show attendees might have passed out a business card instead of being scanned. Make sure that all leads are registered in a central system so that you can measure the success of the trade show by the number of leads and the eventual following sales.

2. Sorting contacts according to potential

As mentioned before, you might have more leads than you can handle. And as you also know, not all leads are created equal. The first most important step is to prioritize them, based on predicted buying potential. Sales often will know immediately which are the ‘hot leads’, and can claim immediately after the show.

3. Reach out to ‘hot leads’ immediately

‘Hot leads’ need immediate attention and follow-up – ideally within a couple business days. And for those ‘hot leads’, a personal call is more efficient than sending an email, text or mail. Also, do not stop at leaving one voice message, but try a couple of times. They did express interest in your products, so putting in the effort to follow up correctly is not more than logically.

Remember, an immediate follow-up call will make you appear timely and trustworthy, a must for suppliers in this day and age.

4. Quick follow-up

Research shows that the majority of leads collected from trade shows never receive follow-up by company representatives. That is a waste of money and effort that you have invested in the trade show. So do not let it happen to you.  The timing to reach out to people and companies who have expressed interest is critical. Don’t wait too long, or they might not be interested anymore ( for example because they started their project with a competitor’s product, who did reach out timely).

5. Focus on second-tier leads

Of course, not all leads you receive will be interested in buying your product or service immediately. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore warm or even cold leads. Focus on a follow-up strategy that builds two-way communications with these contacts. This will enable you to gain a greater understanding of their business needs and, over time, serve as a resource to them.

As an example, for leads that you deem “warm” and indicate some level of interest in your offerings, send a  follow-up letter or email with additional information. Thank them for coming by your booth and reinforce your sales message. Emails might often be the best follow-up action as you can measure click-throughs to your website or white paper, or to a system set up to create appointments or phone calls. Requesting a phone call or meeting will enable them to get to know you and your company, as well as allow you to gain a better understanding of their needs.

Also, ask if they are interested in receiving them to your email newsletters and/or social media distribution lists. Invite them to participate in webcasts, or regularly send them helpful articles or links to essential information about your industry. The goal is to cultivate these potential buyers, offer information of value to them, and keep them actively involved with you until they are ready to purchase.

In all trade show follow-up activities, don’t assume that potential customers will reach out to you first after the end of the show. In fact, they won’t.  Don’t forget that your leads also talked to your competition at the same show – and they will most likely respond to whoever does the best follow-up.

If you need help with your follow-up, let me know!


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Ria Van Hoef