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Trade Show Follow-Up: Aligning Marketing & Sales

By July 8, 2024Company News

Trade shows present a unique opportunity for your brand to get face time with potential customers and colleagues within your industry. In our previous article, we shared actionable marketing tips to help you make the most out of trade show season by planning an effective marketing strategy. Now, we turn our attention to a crucial aspect of trade show success: the Follow-up. Without a strategic follow-up plan, even the most successful trade show can result in missed opportunities and wasted investments. In this article, we will explore how aligning your marketing and sales teams can ensure an effective trade show follow-up strategy to help your team close more business and increase revenue.

Why Trade Show Follow-Up Matters

Timely and strategic follow-up is essential for converting trade show leads into customers. According to a study by Salesforce, a staggering 80% of exhibitors do not follow up with leads they receive from trade shows. Without any proper follow-up, the probability that booth leads will turn into customers is dramatically lowered. 

Poor follow-up practices can lead to lost opportunities and wasted investment of time, money, and resources. Delayed responses, missed communications, and lack of coordination between marketing and sales can result in valuable leads slipping through the cracks. By prioritizing follow-up after a trade show, you ensure that the effort and resources invested in the trade show yield tangible results. Effective follow-up demonstrates your commitment and interest in potential clients, keeping your brand top of mind after a lead’s initial engagement.

Preparing for Post-Show Success

Misalignment between your marketing and sales teams is one of the most common ways that trade show strategies can fall flat. Success begins with thorough pre-show planning and coordination between your marketing and sales teams. Both teams should collaborate to set clear goals, define roles, and create unified messaging.

Joint Planning Sessions

Conducting joint sessions to align objectives and strategy is key when working across teams. This ensures that marketing and sales are on the same page and understand their responsibilities. If your business is attending multiple trade shows throughout the year, put together a trade show calendar to help you plan more proactively. Use these sessions to align on specific goals and plan out your strategy before, during, and after the show.

Unified Messaging

Develop consistent messaging for each show that highlights your key value propositions. Ensure that marketing materials and sales pitches reflect this messaging so leads hear a consistent pitch before, during, and after each event. Your team may also want to consider choosing a theme for larger shows if there are certain products or services that you want to highlight. This works well for new product launches or rebrands.  

Defining Roles

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of both teams during and after the event. This includes who will capture leads, who will handle follow-up communications, and how leads will be tracked and managed. Consider creating a Service-Level Agreement (SLA) to help you keep track of each team member’s responsibilities. It is also important to be aware of any potential messaging overlap that could occur. Misalignment between marketing and sales can lead to extra touchpoints that could be potentially offputting to some leads.

Capturing and Qualifying Leads

Having a plan in place for capturing and qualifying trade show leads is one of the top ways to set your team up for long-term success. To allow for proper follow-up on trade show leads, be sure to have a plan in place for where that data will be stored and what tools will be used by each team. 

Hubspot has many useful functions to help your team store and follow up on leads. One of these is the business card scanner included in the Hubspot mobile app. This prevents the tedious job of manually adding business card contacts to your CRM. If your company is looking for more automated ways of capturing leads, dedicated check-in forms or badge scanners can eliminate any manual entry needed. To create a seamless user experience inside your booth, consider allowing visitors to check in via tablet or with a QR code.

Categorizing and qualifying leads is important for optimizing your follow-up strategy. First, consider the types of visitors you might get at your booth. Categorize them into groups to help determine what the method and timeframe of follow-up will look like. Here are a few common types of leads you may receive:

  • Swag-Only Sam: This is someone who stopped by your booth only to grab something you were giving away for free. They may or may not be interested in engaging with your sales team so you can enroll them into a lead nurture campaign the following week after the show and see if they move forward down the funnel.
  • Conversation Kevin: Take note of anyone who directly engages with your booth staff for a conversation. These leads should receive personalized follow-up emails the day after the event that recap what was discussed. They can then be placed in a sales sequence for further outreach.
  • Decision-Maker Dale: The highest priority lead that can come to your booth are decision makers actively looking to purchase. It’s important to prioritize these leads to increase the likelihood of closing business with them. Follow up with them that evening with a recap of your conversation and next steps.

You may also want to consider Implementing a lead scoring system to prioritize follow-up efforts. This should consider factors such as the lead’s level of interest, purchasing timeline, budget, role, specific questions asked, etc. Also, be sure to instruct the team members managing your booth to take notes about each person you have a conversation with so you can include personalized details in your follow-up.

Post-Show Debrief

After the event concludes, immediately hold a debrief meeting with both marketing and sales teams. This session should focus on reviewing performance, gathering feedback on show strategy, and analyzing leads. First, review the collected leads to assess their potential and prioritize follow-up actions. Next, discuss what worked well and identify areas for improvement in future trade shows. Including both your marketing and sales teams in these conversations will increase alignment and allow for a more streamlined approach.

Coordinated Follow-Up Strategy

Prioritize Leads

An important topic of your post-event debrief meeting is to separate any leads you received into lists based on priority. Each lead’s level of interest and how well they fit into your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) should determine the follow-up strategy your team should employ.

  • High Priority: These leads should be handled directly by your sales team as they are the most likely to become customers. This list should include any decision-makers or other highly qualified leads who expressed interest. Follow-up should be during or directly after the event and should be highly personalized to the conversation they had when visiting your booth.
  • Medium / Low Priority: Any leads who visited your booth but did not specifically show intent to purchase can be considered medium / low priority. These leads are prime for further nurturing by your sales team and may not need to be targeted with messaging as personalized as higher priority leads.

Messaging Types

Effective follow-up messaging can come in many forms and employ several different tools. To streamline the follow-up process for your team, consider crafting messaging before the event that can be used to follow up with leads. Below are a few examples of messaging that you should consider creating:

  • Sales Email Templates: Consider creating several scenarios for different types of leads and craft messaging accordingly. Templates should be written with the thought that each salesperson will customize them prior to sending.
  • Phone Call Scripts: While your seasoned sales staff may prefer to do without them, having a script in place for follow-up with high-priority leads can help these conversations go more smoothly. 
  • Sales Sequences: Using tools like Hubspot or Outreach, you can create sequences of messages and other actions all coordinated to move your lead down the funnel. Creating sequences helps to make a standardized approach for each salesperson to follow when following up post-event.
  • Lead Nurture Workflows: Marketing automation tools like Hubspot allow for the creation of automated workflows that will send out a series of marketing emails on a set interval of time. Provide valuable content that educates and addresses their pain points, gradually guiding them through the buyer’s journey.

Measuring Success and Continuous Improvement

Key Metrics

Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your follow-up efforts. Key metrics include lead response rate, conversion rate, and sales cycle length. Keep tabs on the types of leads that turn into customers to help you refine your qualification rubric and prioritize efforts most likely to increase revenue.

Refining & Improving

Create a feedback loop between marketing and sales to continuously refine and improve follow-up strategies. Regular check-ins and data analysis can help identify areas for adjustment and further optimization. Consistently A/B test different messaging to help you determine what will resonate most with your target audience.

Aligning marketing and sales for effective trade show follow-up is essential for maximizing ROI and achieving business success. By preparing thoroughly, capturing and qualifying leads, implementing a coordinated follow-up strategy, and leveraging CRM and automation tools, you can ensure that your trade show efforts translate into tangible results.

For additional help building an effective trade show strategy, partner with the marketing experts at Alaniz Marketing. We are here to help you align your teams and drive successful outcomes from your trade show participation.