There's a common adage that's been making the rounds in the business world for years:…
One of the biggest missed opportunities in B2B sales has to be the “money left on the table” after spending hours and dollars participating in an industry tradeshow. Countless times I’ve attended such shows, and had great conversations with some of the exhibitors, to come home to a quiet inbox, never to hear from them again.
If you’re in B2B sales, it can be a busy rollercoaster of moving from tradeshow to tradeshow, with barely a breath to catch before heading out to the next show! I understand the hamster wheel B2B partners are on, trying to keep up with it all. But being intentional about strategic follow-up after the tradeshow can result in better client relationships and more incoming leads.
To ensure you pick up that money you left on the table, consider these tips for maximizing your time after the tradeshow:
Follow up after the tradeshow tips:
- Schedule time to do follow up – Before you run off to the next tradeshow, be intentional and dive into your calendar to create some time for intentional follow-up. Resist putting the follow-up on your “get around to it” task, but rather intentionally block out a few hours to dive into your follow up. This is such a critical step in building relationships, don’t let the full inbox distract you from connecting with your new friends.
- Catalog your business cards – We all have them, mountains of business cards accumulated, and then likely thrown into the middle drawer of your desk. Capture your potential client’s information using any of the following resources:
- Use a card-scanning app like Camcard or Evernote to scan your business cards and reduce your paper clutter in the office. You can also add notes about your new contacts, or upload them to your CRM (content relationship manager, like Hubspot or Salesforce) with your notes
- Plunk your hot prospects directly into your CRM with their contact details and a note about your next steps.
- Binder clip – when in a rush, simply binder clip your tradeshow cards with a note about what show, date and location. When your memory brings the person to mind, hopefully it also brings to mind the show, so you can dive into your binder clip full of cards to find your contact.
- Send A Follow up email – The follow-up email is one of the easiest ways to continue the relationship, but with your new clients likely receiving dozens of follow up emails from the same show, you need to find a way to ensure your email is being read, and actioned. Here are some tips to make YOUR follow up email stand out!
- Include a place of reference – In your email, ensure you repeat where you met your potential client; this individual may be meeting people at all kinds of tradeshows, receptions and conferences. Help jog their memory :)
- Attach a picture! – Your new friends likely met dozens of new connections on the floor. Make sure YOU are remembered by either attaching a picture, or better yet, attach a video! Use a video platform like BombBomb to send a personalized message to your new contact
- Personalize your email – When we send the follow-up email, it’s tempting to feature-dump about your product or service; but if you took good notes about the client’s needs, you should be able to personalize your message as it pertains to their needs and objectives. Struggling to personalize it to their current challenges? Personalize it to THEM! What interesting details did you learn about your new client when you met them on the floor? Weave that into your message and stand apart from all the other feature-dumps your client is receiving.
- Include a call to action – Don’t let this email be the LAST time you connect with this person. Clearly outline the next step in the process to keep the conversation moving forward. If you know your email will be one in a sea of many, make your FIRST email brief but memorable, eluding to a deeper dive email in the weeks to come.
- Make sure to avoid these terms – Positioning yourself as an equal partner in the sales process is difficult enough without sabotaging your own efforts through these email faux-pas. Try to avoid using the following terms in your follow-up email:
- “Just following up” – As a strategic partner, we don’t “just” do anything. Everything we do is with purpose, including our email communications. Remove the words “just following up” from your vocab and you’ll start to see yourself on an equal playing field with your client.
- “Do not hesitate to reach out” – The open-door invitation to reach out is a given. If tempted to provide an “open door” policy, try something more specific like “you may wonder how our product can help you achieve your objectives, reach out and I’ll show you some examples of how our clients are experiencing growth with us.”
- “How are you?” – Here’s the thing with email – it’s a one-sided conversation most of the time. Words like “how are you” are best for platforms that are a 2-way dialogue, like social media direct messaging, texting, etc. Instead of trying to engage with “how are you”, consider personalizing your call to engage by asking asking “what did you enjoy the most about this year’s show?” or “did you find value in the show and would you return next year?”
- Provide something of value – Your potential clients have varied needs; if you’re able to position yourself as a problem-solver and collaborator by giving freely of resources and information, you’ll be better positioned to present your product or offer when the time is right.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn – Following a new connection or connecting with them on LinkedIn is perfectly acceptable in business settings. Extend a personalized invitation with a mention of the show where you met.
- Create a plan – Ensure that the tradeshow and imminent follow-up message are not the end of the relationship. Craft a prospecting plan for the potential client and program and create follow up steps in your CRM.
Friends, tradeshow follow up can be both time-consuming and mentally taxing, but the effort you invest here will be worth it with stronger client relationships and more opportunities for your business. Remember what the ultimate goal of tradeshow activities is – to NOT have to exhibit at a tradeshow because your business is growing and thriving!
Here’s to taking the time you need to do effective follow up and close more business with your new client friends. Best of luck!
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Photo Credit Austin Distel