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How to Master Trade Show Follow-up

By Kelley Robertson

Trade shows can be a grind. Pre-show set-up, manning the booth, and post-show tear-down is just the start.

During the show you talk to dozens of people (prospects and customers alike) and collect even more business cards. Then, you’re expected to follow-up with everyone afterwards.

I have attended trade shows and been genuinely interested in a particular product but never heard from the sales person afterwards.

Conversely, I have received calls from people who simply collected cards via the “Win a Prize” fishbowl and then called every person to see if they were interested in receiving information about the company.

Here are a few tips and strategies to get the best results from your efforts and follow-up effectively after trade shows.

First, forget about collecting as many business cards as you can

Trying to connect with everyone after the show is a complete waste of time and a fast way to get demotivated. It is much more effective to leave the show with contact details from a dozen people who are seriously interested in your product, service or solution, than to collect 157 business cards.

You have a limited number of hours in a given day and you need to make the most of your time. Calling every Tom, Dick and Harry is not effective.

That means you need a system to determine who to call.

Therefore, you need to categorize people.

Categorize each person as an A (high-value), B (mid-value) or C (low-value) contact after the conversation (while the conversation is still fresh).

Make brief notes of the conversation, level of interest and next steps. These notes and comments help you determine who to call first after the trade show.

However, I strongly suggest that you determine and agree on next steps when you have a high-value prospect in front of you.

Don’t leave it open!

Try to secure a specific day and time to contact that person afterwards. Most executives and business people carry a smartphone so they have their calendar available which means you can schedule a follow-up call or meeting on the spot.

Then when you make the follow-up call, you can open with, “Mrs. Jones, Bob Martin from Big Corporation calling as promised…”

Make the follow-up a priority.

When you return to work after the trade show, it is essential to contact people as fast as humanly possible. The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood of losing that sales opportunity.

Contact your “A” prospects first, preferably within 24 hours of the show. If the trade show is a multi-day event, schedule time at the end of each day to reach out to the people you met that day unless you have already agreed on a follow-up day and time.

The worst way to open the follow-up call is to say something lame like, “Hi Mr. Smith. It’s Art Roberts calling from Big Dumb Company. You stopped by our booth today and I wanted to see if you were interested in any of our products.”

Instead, reference your conversation (you did have a conversation, didn’t you? Not just a sales pitch?) and give the other person a reason to return your call.

“Ms. James, Kim Holland calling from Smart Telephone Systems. During our conversation this afternoon, you mentioned that your call centre was experiencing an increase in abandoned calls. I have a few ideas that may help reduce that figure without increasing your head count. My number is 555-555-1212.”

Then make a note of the next time you will contact that person.

Focus your attention on the big fish first. The most important prospects, customers and leads. The people who are seriously interested in your offering.

Devote time immediately after the trade show to make contact with these people, make your contact valuable and you will generate much better results and close more post-trade show sales.© MMXI Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Do you know what sales blunders are costing you money? Increase your sales with a FREE audio program, Sales Blunders That Cost You Money and two other sales-boosting resources by subscribing to Kelley’s newsletter at www.Fearless-Selling.ca.

Kelley helps people master their sales conversations so they can win more business and increase their sales. He does this by conducting sales training workshops and delivering keynote speeches at conferences, sales meetings and other events. Book Kelley to speak at your event: 905-633-7750 or Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com.

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