Qualifying trade show leads the right way

Qualifying trade show leads the right way

Qualifying Trade Show Leads…Quality Matters … Not Quantity

Qualifying trade show leads leads at the show is a skill that is often unappreciated and misunderstood. Statistics indicate that of every 100 visitors at a trade show, only 10 are qualified to purchase. And of those 10 visitors, only 3 have an immediate need to buy. Like a prospector panning for gold, how does your booth staff sift through the multitude of visitors to find those treasured qualified leads? There are only two parts to qualifying trade show leads. The answer lies in staff conduct, and the ability to ask the right open-ended questions to complete the qualification process quickly and efficiently.

Show floors are noisy, so exhibit staff must talk slowly and clearly. Maintain good eye contact to demonstrate that you’re listening and that the visitor has your full attention. When speaking to more than 1 visitor be certain to address each of them equally. Avoid criticizing your competitors. Remain standing with your arms at your sides or cupped beneath your waist, and remain polite and friendly.

Some exhibit staffers try to sell to everyone, which is frustrating and unproductive. What you need to do is use the first minute or two to qualify prospects before beginning a mini-presentation or a more in-depth conversation. You may find yourself talking to an enthusiastic listener who has absolutely no intention of ever buying your product or service. Use open-ended questions to quickly ascertain whether this visitor warrants more of your precious attention.

To begin, never ask “May I help you?”. The visitor may say no thanks and walk away. Also never greet visitors to your booth with the question “How are you today?”, since visitors know you aren’t genuinely concerned about their health. Instead, try asking “How are you enjoying the show?”. This question can engage the visitor in a discussion about their purpose for attending the show, whether their visit has been successful, and what progress they’ve made thus far.

Once you’ve established contact, ask some opening questions to evaluate their potential need for your product or service. Find out who you’re talking with, where they’re from, objectives for attending the show, what specific product/service they need, and any challenges they may currently be experiencing. Highlight the features of your product/service but keep the conversation focused on the visitor’s needs. Your company’s advantages are a distant second.

If there is a perceived need for your product/service, next pose some open-ended investigating questions to determine the visitor’s budget authority, ability to influence purchasing decisions, and the roles of employees who are involved in the decision-making process. Again, ask open-ended questions to create an interactive dialogue and determine whether the visitor’s budget and authority warrant continuing the discussion.

If the visitor’s budget, authority and needs increase the likelihood of a potential sale, next verify a timeline for a purchase by asking another open-ended question such as “When do you think you’ll be making a decision to proceed?”. You can then pose some closing questions, including “Is there anything else you need to know from us?” and “What would you like to see as the next step?” Perhaps even “May I call you in a few days to schedule an appointment, or can we book an appointment now?”. Then record the visitor’s contact information and important details on your lead form.

When qualifying your trade show leads you determine the person to whom you are talking is not qualified what do you do?

If, during the first minute or two you’ve determined that the visitor is not qualified, but continues to monopolize your valuable time, try to end the conversation quickly but courteously. Simply hand the visitor a brochure, say “Here’s some more information about our product/service for you to read when you have a chance” and express thanks for stopping by your booth. Shake the visitor’s hand, and walk to another area of your exhibit.

By all means make eye contact, smile, and greet everyone who passes by your booth. But if a prospect chooses to stop and chat, your staff must be prepared to complete the qualification process quickly and politely. With proper staff conduct, and an abundance of open-ended questions to determine the visitor’s needs, budget, authority and time frame, you can qualify leads in a fast and efficient manner. Ask appropriate questions to sort quality from quantity.