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The Ultimate Trade Show Follow-Up Plan

Put another one in the books! The PGA Show has just come to a close and the success of your efforts from the last few days now depends upon your ability to prioritize and follow up on potential business opportunities.

Allow me to show you how all of those accumulated business cards can be used to build revenue for your business.

Prioritize your leads:

Use the 24-hour period after the trade show to organize your leads and conversations. Yes, that means emptying your suitcase, searching your suit & slacks, purses and wallets for any and all business cards.

Use a spreadsheet to organize your contacts based on priority. Prioritizing may require you to recall conversations, evaluate the business type, explore websites, or reference notes you may have taken. Whatever the case, organize your contacts into the following lists:

  • Buyers

  • Shoppers

  • Connectors

  • Undefined

Buyers are your hot prospects who you have moved into a buying decision. These contacts may have requested a proposal, pricing or have given you some indication of a green light.

Craft simple but strategic emails to reach each segment of your priority list. The depth of conversation and time spent will determine if you deploy a personal or campaign-based email outreach. Since your prime buyer contacts are deserving of a personal follow up, we will move to the campaign-based email you should be delivering to the rest. Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting this email:

  • Personalize your emails - If possible, use your email software to personalize your email with the contact’s name. Enhance the look and add a personal touch by including personal contact information at the end of the email to show you are their direct point of contact and that you aim to provide a personalized solution.

  • Remind them of your solution - Craft a concise reminder of the relevant products you discussed. Remember, your contact has just endured days of being pitched dozens of times, if not more. Don’t assume they remember your solution, but don’t insult them with additional information overload.

  • Request a Timeline - We all want sales TODAY, but the fact is some hot prospects are just not ready to pull the trigger. Set the communication strategy with these leads to establish a timeline for engagement. Take this opportunity ask the contact when it would be most helpful for you to deliver a solution.

  • Set the Next Step - You must clearly communicate action items once you understand your prospect’s timeline. Never defer to a lead! Always offer a mutually beneficial next step that will move the sales process forward. This may be running a demo, sending sample products, delivering a contract or setting a call. Whatever it is, make your next step actionable, meaning you are not going to simply “follow up” again.

Shoppers are interested contacts that may be shopping for solutions but are contemplating more than just one offer. These contacts may have mentioned your competitors. You must make an informed decision to understand whether a competitor may have an edge or the ear of this contact. Always assume your competitor is in hot pursuit of this prospect.

In order to move these contacts into your sales cycle, you may need to further qualify the lead by providing additional information or explaining why you are better than the competition. In this case, discreetly position your competitive edge by identifying what makes your business the ideal solution.

  • Personalize your emails - Personalization still works with this lead type and in fact, it may be a differentiator when your contact is faced with the ensuing rush of post-show follow ups. Use the same strategies as mentioned above for BUYERS to create messaging that impresses your prospects with a personal touch.

  • Remind them of your solution - This contact may need to see more solutions or a recap of your offer. Direct them to resources within your website that can help them make an informed buying decision. Reiterate why you offer a superior solution and reference recent success or validation to help win them over.

  • Request a Timeline - Shoppers may live in your sales cycle for a longer period of time; understanding how long should be the objective of your communication. With this contact, you can offer a few options to engage when they are ready — just be sure to confirm that they fully understand your offer before setting a timeline for re-engagement.

  • Set the Next Step - Shoppers can get turned off by an aggressive approach. Understand that these leads are seeking more information to make the best decision. Stay alert and be ready to fill in the gaps with resourceful information that leads them to the close. Make yourself available to walk them through your solution and provide an honest assessment of your business fit.

Connectors are really great contacts that could move your business agenda forward. These contacts can lead to more visibility, introduce you to more leads or would be a great business fit sometime down the line. Keep these contacts close as they can pay off huge with a little fostering.

Connectors should not be treated like your sales prospects. Instead, your goal should be to grow a relationship that can create a new stream of leads for your business.

Here are a few ideas to make the most of the Connectors on your list:

  • Personally email these contacts to show them your gratitude for introductions or providing exposure for your business.

  • Establish your timeline and politely position your willingness to help their network out, if and when they are ready to do business

  • Connect these contacts to your marketing funnel by encouraging them to follow your business on social media, newsletter and blog.

  • Stay top-of-mind by sending resourceful and informative content, when appropriate.

No Shows are contacts that booked and missed your appointment for one reason or another. Don’t assume that they did so on purpose; trade shows are fraught with distractions and scheduling mishaps so be prepared to give your “trade show pitch” in a digital format.

Don’t focus on the missed meeting. Instead, use a campaign-based email to thank them for their interest in your business.

The following campaign strategies can be used for your Undefined contacts as well.

Undefined are those cards that you have no clue how you ended up with. This could be anyone really — a bar conversation, self-promoter, or the infamous Booth Crasher hell-bent on selling you before you sell them. These contacts could use a little more vetting or may need to be retired, but it doesn’t hurt to hit them with an email and see what may come of it.

Here are a few ideas to make the most of the No Shows and Undefined contacts on your list:

  • Highlight your success at the trade show

  • Restate your solutions or opportunity

  • Create a sense of urgency with a Post Show Offer

  • Direct them to a landing page to get them re-engaged in your sales cycle.

  • Let the sting of the missed opportunity be the reason they respond

We’re helping dozens of clients craft these campaign based emails over the next few weeks. If you would like help creating the best possible email to make the most of your trade show leads, please contact us today. Call 888.344.9915 or email us at


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