Trade Show Leads, the Essential Ingredient

A fish bowl of leadsA fishbowl filled with business cards is what most companies bring home from trade shows. The sales people may go fishing in the fish bowl to find a recognizable name or two, but for the most part the business cards are worthless. They are worthless because they have no meaning. How do you value one business card over the other? If you have 100 business cards should you call every one? If you are a busy sales person chances are about 100% that you have better things to do than cold call names from a fishbowl.

What salespeople want are qualified leads. A qualified lead generally means that the lead represents a real sales opportunity. The lead shows interest, has money, is ready to buy, etc. However, in order for a lead to be qualified it first has to be qualifiable. A qualifiable lead is the essential ingredient for a lead. It is the 5-10 attributes that will allow you to rank-order the lead in terms of potential sales opportunity.

I used to work in the college admissions industry. We sold lead-generation services to colleges. The best potential customer was the dean of admissions at a mid-size, private liberal-arts college in the Midwest that already used the Internet for recruiting students. The worst potential customer was a lowly admissions counselor at a very large, public college no matter where they were.

So, the attributes that were important were:

  • Title of contact
  • Tax status of the school (public or private)
  • Location of the school
  • Size of the student body
  • Their use of the Internet for recruiting

With these five simple attributes I could assign a score to each lead and rank order it. When I was at this company we staffed our booth with Trade Show Samurai and brought back literally thousands of lead cards per year—far too many to handle with our small sales force. It was no problem, we simply rank-ordered them and gave our top potential leads to the team. The others we included as part of our lead-nurturing program and we called them when they showed interest.

The difference between a business card and a highly qualified lead is the qualifiable information you collect. With it you have a sales feast for the sales team, without it you have fish food.

Mike Moyer

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