Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Booth Staffing Tips & Training Part V


A very simple way to increase your quality leads at a trade show is to prepare a solid lead card — one that provides your sales staff with the necessary ingredients to properly follow up and close the sale. What would you rather get at the end of a show -- 100 business cards with a line or two scribbled on the back, or 100 lead cards with the prospect's answers to your booth staffer's smart questions?!

An effective lead card should not be complicated. Leave a section at the top for company, address, name, phone, etc. This step can go quickly by stapling a business card here. Have a line for the decision maker's name and number if different from the attendee. Next have a section for key questions to ask your guest. What created the need? How do they want to solve the problem? What would they like to have happen next?

To help your staffers in the questioning process, make a list of key phrases or words on the lead card that prompt the staffer. It can get pretty hectic on the show floor and staffers often forget to ask all the pertinent questions. Leave plenty of space for notes on the profile of the company and individual. If the strategic information on a potential client is not written down it will be forgotten. The last section is for the booth staffer to recommend the next course of action based on the prospect's wishes. This gives the sales staff a clear direction for follow-up. A ranking system should also be in place, based on the staffer's judgment, to aid the sales force in determining which prospects to contact first. After all, not all leads are of the same quality, and the hot leads must be dealt with immediately.


Over the past few years electronic badge scanners have become a standard tool for lead follow-up. Not always available in small shows, but for sure these lead retrieval systems are available by show management from chosen vendors at most large shows. The equipment is rented and should be ordered in advance of the show order deadlines to receive the best price. Order forms are usually found in the show kit with other show services. If more than one scanner is being used, don’t hesitate to ask for a discount, this has worked for me several times.

Depending on the vendor, the devices are available in different configurations; some are counter top, others hand held, others may require a lap top computer. Some systems may use wireless printers. The process is simple, the visitor’s name badge is scanned and stored in the system and the contact data is made available usually after the show. Most devices allow a field for entering notes for follows up. Just at the hand written card mentioned earlier, the ability to code the guest’s contact information and make notes is very important. Make sure the system accommodates this need.

Newer technology offers a Web enabled wireless mobile lead collection device and real-time web page lead management system. This new technology concept transfers data from an attendee’s badge to an exhibitor’s personal event web site. Leads can be custom qualified using the web site for personalization. With this approach, exhibitors do not need to carry away a CD or memory stick or wait in line to download or “retrieve” data at the end of the event. The wireless enabled mobile unit delivers all the sales lead data in real-time to a secure exhibitor web site with online password protected access by the exhibiting company’s personnel.

The features of these data capture systems vary from show to show. Rental prices range from $250 to $500. Remember the devices are to be returned to vendor’s service desk at the end of the show where data is retrieved. Sometimes the data is transferred to a memory stick or a secured web site allows downloading of the leads at your convenience. Most vendors allow access to your contact data up to ninety days after the event. Be sure and have a good understanding of what happens with the devise at the end of the show, where to return it, and how to capture the data. It’s important to assign a responsible booth staffer this task, lost or damaged units could be charged a hefty fee. Remind this person to get the necessary log-on information for the data download and a receipt!


This morning I had a great phone visit with long time friend and client, Scott Mayster, Vice President of Tick Data. Scott is responsible for client services and marketing and is an experienced trade show marketer. We have worked together in the design and building of his exhibits built by ShaBang Exhibits. A true trade show road warrior, we have spent many I&D hours on the show floor. We’ve enjoyed a great working relationship, I’m thankful for his friendship.

Scott has used electronic data capture in his booth for years. He has used this technology in several forms and graciously approved me sharing these experiences and tips with you:

1. The quality of the data received from the visitors name tag is limited to that which the show management collected at registration. Most registration personnel are good with entering data from a business card, driver’s license or other certified documents. However, when the attendee enters their personal data at registration, the information may not be complete or totally correct. Information that you may need, may have been omitted.

2. Rental systems provided by show vendors are most useful at shows where most visitors may not have business cards. These shows are usually retail shows that are high in attendance and may fall in a “retail” type of show.

3. The rental scan systems are fast and efficient. The speed and ability to have the contact data in a form that you can manipulate for mail-outs, general follow up is invaluable. Having that already in digital form, (in lieu of hundreds of pieces of paper) is the first step of evaluating the success of the show and proceeding with follow up in a timely manner.

4. Scott follows a simple rule when it comes to giving “swag” (premiums, give-a-ways) to visitors. He asks permission to scan the visitor’s badge before he releases the swag that’s in his hand. WOW! that’s a little gutsy for most folks, but when you think about it, it’s a ”win-win” situation! Scott has the follow up data he needs, and the prospect gets a t-shirt or squeeze ball. Everybody is happy. In my humble opinion, that should be standard practice for swag give-a-ways in every booth…every time!

5. Another system Scott uses at shows where the approach and greeting usually involves the exchange of business cards is using the old standard fish bowl. Only this time, the fish bowl has gone high tech! The business cards in the fish bowl are scanned by a business card reader connected to his lap top computer. The program has a data fields for notes and other information that can be customized and later exported into contact and spread sheet programs such a ACT, Goldmine, MS Outlook or MS Excel.

My special thanks to Scott for sharing his experiences as we continue our Boothology study focusing on booth staffing and training.

PS Large and small companies are finding the Shabang Exhibits website a good resource for information in planning a successful trade show. Check out the Trade Show Tips at:

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