Our instincts tell us to hand a survey or a reply card or an entry form or a lead card to someone and ask them to fill it out. This is entirely logical. “Here,” we say, “fill this out to be on our mailing list (or win a prize or whatever).” This tendency is so pervasive that we overlook the plain simple fact that it sucks.
The Trade Show Samurai knows better– they never let a prospect fill out their own lead card. A lead card, at its core, is a way for the Trade Show Samurai to take notes about their conversation so that they can pass the information onto the right salesperson. It is not a data-collection task. It is about the conversation. If you do your job right you will have rehearsed and practiced your pitch and you have prepared a lead card that allows you to capture the right pieces of information. The lead card is designed for you, not for them.
Shoving a survey in front of a prospect is intrusive, rude and disrespectful. However, taking careful notes while talking to a prospect is thoughtful and professional. “Do you mind if I take a few notes while we talk?” You say. Nobody will say no.
As a prospect, you should expect people to take notes. You are there telling them about your needs and they appear to be listening. Do they have such a super brain that they will remember your needs in addition to the 200 other people they will talk to during the show? Highly unlikely.
The moral of the story? Use your lead card to keep notes about your conversation. It is not a survey or a contest entry form. It is them most important tool you have at the show and you need to fill it out yourself.