This is a question that we hear frequently from new clients and prospects and is something that is very hard to answer, especially in the period directly after the show. To obtain a true answer will take the length of the sales cycle, but there are things you can do to evaluate new qualified leads during the sales cycle too. This will help you to understand if a trade-show is worth returning to, or if you should take measures to improve your presence in the following year.
This is the advice we always give to our clients to help them answer this question:
Did you have any no-shows from your leads?
Contact these people right away! You must use the first week or two directly after a tradeshow very wisely to follow-up on all your leads. Especially for a big show such as MWC Barcelona then people often miss meetings because of the length of time it takes to walk from one hall to another. They could still be interested in hearing more about your products or solutions so you must make sure you qualify their interest before you can discount the leads that didn’t show up to your booth. Remember, even if you didn’t meet them in person you can still follow-up with them after the show. These no-shows can still become leads!
Crunch the numbers!
This can be as simple as first counting the number of meetings with existing clients or partners and second, the number of meetings with brand new leads. An analysis like this will help you determine how you are using the tradeshow and if you could maximise your presence. Analyse the meetings themselves!
Analyse the meetings themselves.
Look at the notes made throughout meetings: what product lines were people interested in? What type of questions came up in meetings? Did people want to know more because they had a potential project? Did people only get their badge scanned when they stopped to play your game/eat your chocolates?!
Apply a ‘lead score’ to all of the meetings that you conducted.
This largely depends on your type of company and the business you are in, but a simple ‘hot’, ‘warm’ or ‘cold’ lead system would suffice. Another method is to categorise the leads by the type of follow-up action that you will take: immediate, long-term or none.
It is very important to note that you can have an extremely ‘busy’ booth, but without sufficient potential business behind the traffic then you need to ask yourself if you should attend the show again the following year, scale down on the size of your investment, or use an external agency such as DEVEO to help you see a better return on investment.
The real ROI of a trade show can be only calculated much later when those new qualified leads you met for the first time translate into actual sales. In the Communication Service Provider & Broadcaster industries we know that this can often take years. But for that, you have to follow-up on those leads and tag exactly where they came from. By the end of your sales cycle, you will be able to see the exact number of leads you extracted from that particular show.