Are You Wasting your Event and Exhibition Investment?

How often have you run or attended an event only to see a disappointing return? Let’s face it, exhibiting at and running events isn’t a cheap exercise. You have the stand space fees, the costs for designing and building the stand itself, staffing, accommodation and subsistence, incentives and give-aways, technology, products for the stand and so on. That’s before any advertising in the event brochure or catering if you’re running your own event.

So, it’s not an inexpensive thing to do. And the return on investment is a key measure for success. Some would say the only aspect worth measuring! Whilst us marketing folk will tell you that it’s also about brand exposure and awareness (and that’s true), if the activity is a significant slug of your marketing and sales budget, it needs to work in terms of sales opportunities, revenue and profit. Even when the event isn’t about physical attendance, like in the case of webinars, there are still costs for email marketing, the webinar software, manpower, time to pull together the content and so on.

So, the end game is to generate sufficient leads from each day or aspect of the event and to manage and nurture them until they deliver actual sales. Unfortunately, this last element is where many exhibitors and organisers of events fall down. Too many companies have a woefully inadequate process for following up show and event leads – fast. This last point is crucial. The longer the time lag, the higher the inertia on the part of the prospect, whether that’s for a purchase or a sales visit. The interest at the event wanes the longer time goes on.  It’s inevitable as the day job and other priorities kick in. That’s why time is of the essence alongside a robust process for ensuring that you profile the leads from the event, build the short and medium term pipeline and nurture the genuine longer term leads.

Too often, leads coming out of events get passed to the sales team only to evaporate over time. A legitimate argument is that it’s hard to allocate sufficient time to follow up leads to fruition while the sales guys are driving up the M1, doing customer calls, pulling together sales quotes or doing some other important task. That’s aside the fact that many field based sales people don’t like picking up the phone in the first place. The problem is that one follow-up call is manageable. But if that gets a voicemail, the second and third calls need more management time.

To make the process work effectively and to deliver results, it means a number of things need to be aligned and in place:

  1. Before the event, the organiser needs to set objectives for lead generation
  2. Staff attending the event need to be clear on the objectives
  3. Criteria for sales lead need to be set. It also helps to have some kind of classification system for hot leads versus longer-term opportunities. This might be a traffic light system or ABC [profiling.
  4. A lead sheet needs to be designed with the correct fields making it easy for the staff on the stand to fill out the necessary information
  5. All staff need to be trained to gather the correct information and to ask the right questions. On an exhibition stand in particular, it’s all hands to the pump.
  6. The leads need to be collected each day and collated then input onto a spreadsheet or ideally a robust CRM for follow-up. They need to be tagged as ‘event leads’ so as to silo them for follow up and tracking.
  7. At the latest, a couple of days after the event (but earlier if the event spans several days), outbound telemarketing calls need to be started to follow-up the leads. Start with the hottest and work down. Use email in addition where you can’t reach them but also to say ‘nice to meet you at the event’.
  8. Monitor progress using measurement from the CRM system.
  9. Make sure follow-up calls are continuous until an outcome (whatever that is for your business) is achieved from every lead. That means either a sale, demo, sales visit, no interest, future interest or renewal date etc.
  10. Take a date by which you will deliver the above. Dependent on the amount of leads and your resource to follow these up, ideally, try to achieve an outcome for each lead within a 2-week time-frame. That’s not to say this is achievable in every case but the longer you leave it, the weaker the lead becomes.

Of course, if you don’t have the resource or processes to manage the leads in this manner, just give us a call. We’re used to it. A few years back, a client used to handle all the ‘A’ leads from a large event internally (via the regional sales team) and hand us the ‘B’ and ‘C’ leads. After the third year of doing the particular event, they handed GSA the ‘A’ leads too. The reason? They got greater results from B and C leads since we were able to follow them up quicker and more efficiently.

So, don’t waste your exhibition and event investment. Do the most important thing right. Follow up your leads and generate the return on investment you deserve.

If you’d like to know how GSA Business Development can help generate growth for your business through telemarketing or social media lead generation or you’d like to book one of our new business development and marketing strategy workshops, contact us now on 0845 658 8192 or use the form on this site.

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