How To Follow Up On Trade Show Leads Faster

Research suggests that only 18% of trade show leads are followed up after a show. Further, hot leads and warm leads turn cold the longer you take to follow up with those leads.

If you are B2B exhibitor – then you are probably doing the following:

  • Investing a sizable portion of your marketing budget on trade shows
  • Measuring your success based on leads captured and sales closed

Time is money, my friend. Speed is the name of the game. If you don’t follow up on your trade show leads fast, your chances of winning the sale plummet drastically. According to, 35–50% of sales go to the vendor that responds to leads first!

That means if you contact your leads second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or later, you are fighting over 50 to 65% of the pie with all the other potential vendors – except for the first responder!

If you are struggling with fast trade show lead follow-up, then here are some strategies that will help you succeed.

1. Capture trade show leads digitally instead of with business cards

By capturing leads digitally, you can be ready to follow up with leads in minutes instead of the hours and even days it will take you to data enter the business cards manually.  To capture leads digitally, you should use a badge scanner, lead capture app, or a tool like our Digital Fishbowl. These tools will help you collect contact information, ask qualification questions, and make notes.

2. Identify the appropriate lead follow-up options before your event

Keep trade show lead follow-up simple.  I recommend that you pick up to 4 options to follow up with a lead.  Here are the four that I would use: (1) Have a Sales Rep Contact for a demo or call. (2) Add to Newsletter. (3) Send Product Info. (4) Send a Whitepaper or e-book.  Depending on your organization’s sophistication, you can add more.  We can embed this question into our interactive trade show games – so the attendee can self-identify where they fit in the follow-up process.

3. Prepare fulfillment materials in advance

Have your fulfillment letters and packets prepared before you leave for the show, so that doesn’t slow you down after the show. With our recently upgraded Lead Manager App (which comes free with our games), you can even load in your lead fulfillment letters, and have your booth staffers email lead fulfillment (both a letter and digital documents like brochures) from the booth right after talking to each lead.

4. Plan to give sales reps only the qualified trade show leads

Your sales reps will be more motivated to follow up on trade show leads faster when they only get the good leads.  So help your booth staffers to qualify leads in the booth. Choose qualifying questions on your lead form that match what your sales reps want to know and what data fields you have in your sales and marketing database. That way your sales reps will be motivated to follow up, and you will get your trade show leads into your database easier. (The surveys in our games are all customizable to capture answers to whatever questions you want to ask prospects.)

Qualify your leads at the show based on which are the most valuable, and rank them. Send the best leads to your sales team right away (even from the show floor), then send your intermediate leads out a week or two later, and then send your lowest quality leads last – or just put them into your marketing database to develop until they are ready for a sales person. (Our Lead Manager App lets you instantly rank leads from one to 5 stars. And surveys in our games let attendees self-qualify their own level of follow up.)

3. Create a post-event follow-up plan

Document and communicate your follow-up plan before the event. On our team, we use our Lead Capture App to ask qualification questions, make notes, and rate the leads onsite. This data collected helps us prioritize follow up. Here’s what we do when we exhibit:

  1. Any requested e-literature fulfillment documents are sent right from our lead capture app.
  2. Sales reps get the “Sales Qualified Leads” with any notes from the show to assist with a personalized follow-up.
  3. Newsletter additions get a thank you for visiting our booth (sent via our newsletter platform) with our key messages and a photo of our booth and team.
  4. Leads requesting product information receive an email from Marketing with any product information. We nurture these leads until they are ready to be sent to the sales team.
  5. Make sure you know ahead of time who gets which kinds of leads. You don’t want a delay because of territory or vertical market issues preventing you from forwarding hot trade show leads off to the proper sales person.

4. Collect work emails and direct phone numbers

Your trade show lead follow-up will stall when you don’t have the appropriate work email or direct phone number of the lead you are trying to call. Be sure to ask for a direct phone number. If your software allows it, do not let contacts enter generic email addresses or free email addresses from providers such as Yahoo! or Gmail.

5. Make sure your lead capture data maps to your CRM

Make sure the lead data you are collecting can be loaded into your CRM for easier follow up. If your CRM needs to be updated, do this before the show. Once you get back, you want to get the leads into the sales rep’s hands as fast as possible.

6. Get your leads into your CRM or email follow-up system right after the show

Time is money. Assign someone to upload the trade show lead data into your CRM after the show. Even if they are tired from a long show. Make sure they do it right away! Getting lead data to your reps is a top priority because those valuable leads will get cold fast.

7. Follow-up leads while they are still in your booth

Look, we all know that leads won’t read your email while they are at the show. However, you can cross a task off of your list if you can send them the lead while right there at the show.

  1. PRO TIP: Be sure to copy the lead into your CRM
  2. PRO TIP: If you use links to documents, make sure you have a tracking ID on them so you can see if the lead opened the email and clicked on the link

8. Use software to automate steps where possible

It’s essential to use software to automate steps where possible. For example, using SocialPoint’s trade show games, you can capture leads while they are in the booth. The data will flow to a Lead Capture app on the reps phones. Reps can add notes, rate the contact, and send emails right from the booth.

You’ve invested thousands of dollars on that pile of trade show leads. Keep up the effort to ensure they get their requested info fast, and that your sales team is prepared to call or email them as soon as possible. Challenge yourself to measure and shorten the amount of time that takes. It’s so worth it!

If you’d like to see more about how you can drive more booth traffic and get more qualified leads with our interactive trade show games, or see how our Lead Manager app integrates with our games, feel free to contact us with questions or to discuss your event with one of SocialPoint’s Digital Strategists. We’ll help you generate excitement, crowds, and leads.

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is a thought leader, researcher, speaker and award winning innovator on event technology. In 2011, BizBash Magazine added Sam to its annual innovators list. Since then, Sam has won awards from Exhibitor Magazine, IBTM World, RSVP MN, International Live Events Association and MPI for innovation in event technology.