Wooing Prospects After Your Trade Show Booth Is Gone

August 24, 2011 by  Filed under: Marketing 

We’ve all been there – we gathered a long list of supposedly sizzling prospects collected from our trade show stands at the latest event or convention, only to have our sales pitch fizzle when we follow up. Successfully wooing prospects is an art that requires perseverance, personality and a dynamic approach. How well do you close the deal after the conference is over and your trade show display is gone?

Keeping It Old School

The advent of email, instant messaging and other forms of instant communication has overtaken many old-fashioned approaches but, sometimes, traditional courtesies are your best ally. Be sure to send handwritten thank you notes to any strong prospects who visited your trade show booth. If someone seemed particularly interested in a demonstration or specific product, tuck some additional information into the thank you note. Don’t forget to mention that you’ll be calling them in a week or so to discuss their needs.

Another option is to send the standard literature package you send out to everyone who signed up at your trade show booth, but personalize it with a brief message. A note with just a few sentences is great, but take it even further by highlighting key points that address any issues they discussed with you.

Don’t Wait Until The Trade Show Stands Are Packed Away

Although your instinct may be to organize your list of prospects now and contact them after the conference is over, there is no rule that says you can’t contact them before the event ends. When you’re chatting up a visitor to your trade show display, ask where they are staying, then call that hotel and have a nice fruit basket or a gift card for a local restaurant delivered to their room with your compliments. They’ll appreciate the gesture, and in many cases they’ll visit your trade show booth a second time to thank you. It’s the perfect time to cement a relationship with them!

Vary Your Contact Format To Increase Recognition

Some people prefer to contact prospects via email; others think there’s no substitute for a personal phone call. The truth is, you don’t have to choose. In fact, if you vary things a bit, you’ll be more memorable. If you send an email, follow up by phone a week later. If you’ve called them, send an email that same day saying, “I’m sorry I missed you earlier today, but wanted to be sure to send some information you’ll find interesting…”

No matter how you contact them, be sure you’re giving them value for their time. Don’t simply rehash information they already received at your trade show booth. Let them know you remember their company and their unique needs. (“After discussing your need for enhanced lead time at the conference…” or “I’d like to explore some possible scenarios that will enhance your shipping efficiency…”) Considering how many people company representatives talk to when working trade show stands, they’ll be impressed with your memory.

Assume They Are Interested

Sending some brochures or additional information is a good first step, but this needs to be followed up on properly. When you call, say, “If you’ll recall from the brochure you received,” or “Let’s talk about how the services outlined in my proposal can help your business…” Assuming they’ve read the literature, whether mailed to them or picked up at your trade show display, sends a powerful message. It will also encourage them to read the literature as soon as they get off the phone if they haven’t already done so.

Entice Them With A Great Subject Line

Over half of all follow-up emails are never read. It’s a shame, particularly when most of those prospects showed a real interest at your trade show booth. What happened? In some cases, your email is lost in a spam filter (which is why you should always follow up with a phone call). In other situations, people simply delete your email because they can’t be bothered when they’re already drowning in email.

Avoid deletion and entice them to read your entire email by using the subject line effectively. Ask a question that needs a response or tell them something new and interesting. “How much did you spend on advertising last year?” “What’s the number one reason companies outsource?” These are questions that encourage them to read further.

Chris Harmen is an author for Skyline New York, a leading source for trade show stands New York companies rely on. Skyline carries everything you need for your next trade show booth in New York.

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