Tradeshow Success Tip: Qualify Leads

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Tradeshow exhibitors often miss important leads at trade shows because they have no lead development strategy. In addition, according to the CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research), as much as 80% of trade show leads never receive any form of follow-up.

One reason is that following up with unqualified leads from trade shows is tedious. This produces disappointment, frustration and inertia as you pursue the mind- numbing work of trying (and failing) to get new business from your bag full of tradeshow booth visitors’ business cards.

There is a better way. The key is to identify and classify hot prospects and the products and services they are interested in buying. There are new, sophisticated software packages that allow you to identify a half dozen weighted multiple choice questions in advance that will determine how viable a client prospect is. You need to identify the hot leads, filter out those who are not qualified, and then measure your results. You will be able to target qualified sales leads that have the budget, time frame and ability to purchase your product. Your screening strategy not only helps you zero in on qualified leads but also helps you establish stronger relationships with your best clients.

Rank your prospects as “A" (highly qualified), “ B" (somewhat qualified), or “C" (poorly qualified) prospect. When a prospect arrives at your trade show display, your sales staff will be ready to kickstart the sales process by using the software package to help identify qualified leads.

Have your sales force follow up on “A" leads immediately the day after the trade show to maximize your profit opportunity from the trade show. By earmarking the key prospects, your sales staff should be energized by their success in selling the right products to the right client at the right time. Don’t neglect the “B" prospects from your trade show, but follow up with them only after you have mined the hot lead lode.

Measure Your ROI

You will be able to measure your trade show return on investment and justify your trade show exhibit expense if you carefully track your qualified leads. Measure the results of these qualified leads in every stage from the number and dollar amount of proposals made to monies received from actual sales. Your head of marketing can better justify the tradeshow expense to the company CEO when showing solid business- producing results.

Dick Wheeler, is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. The firm is a full-service premiere trade show exhibit, graphics and management services company. Go to


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