You’re back in the office after exhibiting at a trade show. You’ve connected with prospects, leads, and customers who have shared their needs with you. What’s next?

According to the Center for Exhibition and Industry Research, 80% of exhibitors DO NOT follow-up with connections made at a trade show. You’ve invested thousands of dollars to differentiate your company from others on the show floor. Don’t stop now. Optimize your trade show investment by reaching out to attendees who expect and anticipate post-show correspondence in order to make their buying decision. Trade show ROI occurs after the show ends.

Remember: A trade show lead is only as good as the follow-up made after the initial contact.

I asked exhibitors and seasoned trade show professionals this question: How are you following-up with trade show leads?

1.  Qualifying leads begin at the show, so never take a step back by sending a generic letter afterwards. Instead, continue the conversation by mailing a personal note enclosing collateral that you discussed. Then call to continue the conversation. Don’t wait for the lead to contact you. I plan on inviting them to upcoming webinars to build the relationship and keep our company top-of-mind. ~Dolly Diercks, AmeriVap Systems

2. Contact immediately after the show with thank you letter personally signed from the CEO. Each salesperson contacts their territory leads shortly thereafter. Use lead’s preferred contact method to share their specific interest: sell sheets, video, request to their plant/invite to visit/demo their product in our facility. Add every lead into CRM. Follow-up made throughout the year should lead not respond to initial efforts. ~Paula Wernet, Grote Company 

3. Send personalized thank you notes to everyone who visited us at the show. Share links to our site highlighting the items that we demonstrated to them. After entering/updating leads in our CRM system, flag the contacts for urgency – time needed and machine urgency. Call to schedule appointments, discuss possible next steps. Continue to follow-up. ~Josh Wallingford, VC999 

4. In addition to communicating with those I met onsite, I cross-reference my database for missed opportunities. I then reach out to them with a “sorry I missed you” note, and provide a nugget of wisdom from the show that could be of benefit to them. ~Emilie Barta, Emilie Barta Presentations 

5. Finalize appointments scheduled during the show. Send a follow-up message using the name of the show in the subject line or opening paragraph. If I don’t receive a reply after the first campaign, then I reach out again. I share value added information throughout the year to continue to build the relationship. It’s a complex buy and some leads take years to convert to sales. ~Ben Hilger, LegalShield

6. Qualify everyone who stopped by the booth via telephone calls and e-mails. Take the opportunity to schedule one-on-one appointments, set-up demos or presentations at their company, or mail specific collateral that we talked about. ~ Steve Mannarino, GES – Global Experience Specialists

7. The week following PROCESS EXPO, we sent custom email follow-ups to every lead from the show, tailored to their level of interest in our equipment and services. Our sales team called any leads that requested quotes and began working on their projects immediately. We even made facility visits to some of the more qualified leads to see their needs in person and offer suggestions. Each lead has been assigned to a sales person for regular follow up throughout the year.  ~Jason Vana, Fusion Tech Integrated

8. Follow-up with each lead by providing them with exactly and precisely the information they need/want. Don’t bother with mass follow-up campaigns saying “thanks for stopping by our booth. Be sure to visit our web site for more information.” Personalize it. Individualize it. This will build trust, memorability, and move the prospect forward along the path toward purchase. ~Bob Milam aka Trade Show Bob  

9. I utilize the power of social media in post-show follow-up. I’ll connect with them on Twitter and engage with them. I’ll post tweets such as “I enjoyed meeting you at PROCESS EXPO and look forward to continuing our chat about ABC.” I’ll share their content or reply to their posts to keep the conversation going and build the relationship. I’ll invite them to connect on LinkedIn with a customized message stating the specific show where we met. ~Michael Prieto, Tee Shirts and Hats Dot Com

The true measure of your trade show success will become apparent during your post-show efforts. Stay committed to your exhibit investment by following-up and following-through on your promises. You might not know when a lead is going to purchase, but when they’re ready to move forward in the buying cycle, you want to be a part of the discussion. Be persistent. Don’t give up until a point of sale or a decision has been made.

How are you following-up with trade show leads? Happy Selling!

By Grace Cular Yee