Lead Management: How Do Exhibitors Make The Most Out Of Their Leads?

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Posted by , 25th April 2017

Effective lead management is one of the keys to successful trade show participation

Trade show lead management. I’ve written in the past about the sort of preparation you can do before arriving onsite to exhibit at an event which can help you get the most out of the event itself. You can read that post here.

But what happens when you get to event time?

I keep seeing blogs or posts referring to “help needed with activity we can do on our stand” to entice people in or to grab their attention, but very rarely are there many words of wisdom (responses) about how you can maximise the return on the leads you’ve generated at the event.

Lead management basics – What’s the point if you don’t follow-up?

There is one pretty bold and slightly terrifying statistic; that 80% of leads aren’t followed up from an event. Imagine if you went on a date and didn’t follow up within a month… will it go anywhere? Unlikely! Ok, so maybe you didn’t want to follow up on that “lead,” so here’s a better example… at an event, can you afford to throw away £8,000 / £80,000 / £800,000 worth of business?

Obviously this depends on your business model, but I’m pretty sure if I had to tell my boss I just threw away 80% of the leads I have been trying for months to generate – I might not have another blog post to write!

So what can you do to better improve your offering?

In a word; plan.

You’ve designed your stand, ordered your furniture, booked the team that will be onsite, got the products you want to show, so you’re ready right? Well, you’re nearly there… now for the most crucial part.

How are you going to follow up on any of the 000’s of conversations that you will have over the course of 1/2/3/4/5 days of an event? Here’s a test for you… when you go into the office in the morning, ask someone who you don’t normally speak to three things about themselves that you didn’t know before. Two days later – can you go back to them and repeat those three things (without having noted them down)?

I’m hoping you can because you’ve probably already got a working relationship with them (and it might just come across as rude if you can’t). Now imagine multiplying that by 100 or more conversations, all with slightly different answers in a condensed amount of time, with 100 other distractions going on (including an exhibitor party!) – will you remember just one of those three things that could be the crucial piece of information you need to win a new client?

The importance of accurate and relevant lead capture for effective lead management

So you need to capture the right information in the first place to ensure you can follow up with your leads effectively.

There is plenty of technology out there (see Lead capture technology below) that can help assist you and most events offer some form of lead capture device to exhibitors, but you need to ensure you are capturing information relevant to your business, to help you close that new deal. Don’t just capture everyone’s names and email addresses.

For example if you sell cars, do you know which car your lead wanted? Do you remember the colour? The alloys? The stereo package? Did he want UV lights and a booming sound system? Or even which dealership should follow up on the lead? Not very good if all you know is “Matt wanted a car”.

Some people in the UK might have watched the episode of The Apprentice where one of the hopefuls forgot the name of the supplier of the product they were trying to sell. His team lost the product because he called the product by a different name… It was as simple a fault as that!

If you’re not capturing the right information (and I don’t just mean scribbles on a notepad / business card!) how are you going to efficiently respond to those leads and generate new sales, which 87% of exhibitors rate as the primary reason they exhibit?

Lead capture technology

The way exhibitors capture leads is changing.

No longer do they have to just collect business cards. Nor do they need to scan a barcode, that they don’t really know what to do with it until they receive some excel file of data weeks following an event.

Technology around data capture and use has seen the most rapid evolvements in our industry and it means there are easier ways for exhibitors to capture, monitor and measure their leads more effectively.

Here are two examples from my own company that illustrate the point.

Visit Connect

This is a real-time lead retrieval app that puts the power of the quality of leads captured into the exhibitors hands.

Exhibitors can set up questions bespoke to their business. For example, if selling boats, they can list the models, colours etc. that they sell, but also crucially they could add the company representative’s name that needs to follow up. You can register how hot / cold the stand visitor is to buy and the region in which the customer is located in.

Stand staff can also make any free text notes, just like a notepad in your phone or record voice memos, which has proven incredibly popular as it’s a lot faster to speak than it is to type. They can also take pictures within the lead, perfect to capture the visitor engaging on their stand in a fun game or if it’s a building show, they can take a picture of their architectural plans. Basically, the exhibitor can capture as much information as they see necessary to follow up more effectively on that lead post-show.

The power of instant response
The benefit of this being in real-time, is that the exhibitor could have someone back at their office sending out relevant brochures or meeting requests as soon as the lead has been captured. That’s one sure fire way to get the edge on their competition!


This a really cool engagement tool you’ll start to see more of at events. With a smart badge or Poken device, the power of lead capture is placed firmly in the visitors hands, (literally), but with additional benefits for the exhibitor.

In this case, a visitor walks the show floor and using their Poken device taps exhibitor booths they’re interested in. They can also then “tap” individual products that they want to know more about. Each touchpoint on an exhibitors booth that they tap can have specific information associated to it ie product overviews, case studies, brochures, contact details and so on.

The result for the visitor is a virtual briefcase of everything they’ve engaged with at the event so that they can follow up with individual exhibitors as required. For the exhibitor, they can see that I tapped product A, B & C, and can then follow up accordingly with a pitch tailored to the things I expressed interest in. Simple.

Whichever lead capture device you choose… always follow-up your leads!

Don’t leave it to chance that the customer will come back to you – they may have seen 20 of your competitors today, so get the advantage and get the customer by following-up with the information relevant to that lead, in real-time!

Top Tips to remember:
  • Sort out your onsite lead capture tool early
  • Plan the questions you want to ask your potential customers
  • Brief your event staff on what information you want to capture from your leads

Remember, they came to find you – the most decent thing you could do is get back to them with relevant information about the things you discussed.

About the Author

Matt Coyne is Technology Engagement Architect at GES EMEA, the brand building arm of  the GES exhibition and event contracting business.

In his role at GES, Matt is charged with promoting and developing the company’s extensive technology portfolio whilst bringing together powerful data assets to deliver greater insight into visitor and exhibitor engagement.

The goal is to use this insight and knowledge to help improve event interactions and to drive visitor, exhibitor, sponsor and organiser engagement on any event, anywhere in the world.

Matt can be contacted via LinkedIn

Posted in Lead Management  /  Marketing  /  Measurement & Reporting

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