Entries Tagged as 'Events & trade shows'

Will that conference be worth it? Lead follow-up is the key

Just got back from a conference?

Keep up the momentum by following up with all those leads and business cards you collected. It’s the first step in turning those prospects into qualified sales-ready opportunities.

Plan ahead

When you set out for the conference, bring along pre-addressed overnight mailers. Send the leads back to the office each night for immediate data entry and response. Don’t let the opportunity wither away.

Data entry is tedious, but it’s got to be done.

I invested in a CardScan® business card scanner. It’s easier and more accurate than my manual data entry. The current version of its software lets you do drag-and-drop data entry from emails, Web pages and electronic documents too. Visit www.cardscan.com to see models that will put data directly into Outlook or your CRM system.

You can also call your local temp agency if everyone in your office is busy. Good agencies have specialists who can be at your office in an hour.

Email your prospects right away.

The email addresses you collected from business cards and booth visitors and are most likely up-to-date. So email each prospect with “Nice to meet you…” or “Thanks for dropping by.” Include links to relevant information on your website and attach marketing materials. You may be the first or only one to follow up so quickly, which makes a great second impression.

Start dialing.

Schedule calls to each the prospects you added to your CRM system, allowing a few days for prospects to catch up upon their return from the conference. Mid-morning is usually best for both you and your prospect. Also, make the calls in sets of ten, waiting to do other things until you have attempted to reach all ten, to keep the distractions at bay.

The good news is this isn’t cold-calling. Each one expressed interest when you met them or they visited your booth.

“But what should I say?”

To avoid sounding like just another salesperson and to put the prospect at ease, open each call by saying something like this:

“Hi (prospect’s name), this is (your first and last name) from (your company name). We met (or ‘You stopped by our booth’) at (conference name) in (city name) last week. I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference, but first, is this a good time to speak?”

This approach will set your call apart from the majority of the other calls your prospects receive, which usually start with a dumb question like “Did you get the information I sent you?” Why is this a dumb question? Because usually the answer is “No,” which is difficult to move past. Be sure to avoid the overused “How are you today?” (Want to have some fun? The next time a telemarketer asks, “How are you today?” answer “Terrible” and see what the reaction is.)

By saying “I’m interested to hear your thoughts about the conference,” you’ve established a reason for the call that feels comfortable for the prospect. Asking “Is this a good time to speak?” sets a warm and professional tone. Besides, if it isn’t a good time for the prospect, he or she won’t be receptive anyway. If the time isn’t convenient, ask what time would be better.

Next, continue the conversation by asking questions like “What are your thoughts about your time at (conference name)? Did you find it to be worthwhile?” or “Of all the booths you could have visited during the conference, why did you stop by ours?”

The objective is to learn if the prospects are sales ready. The answers will tell you more about the prospects’ business, situations, interests and needs.

Whether prospects are sales ready or not, tell them what you think the next step should be and ask them if they agree.

If you want a business marriage to happen, start dating.

Research shows 3 out of 4 sales come from leads who aren’t ready to buy right away. Only 1 in 4 buys within six months. Half can take a year or more. So you’ve got to find a way to “date” them until they are receptive to your business proposal.

Save money and have more time to invest with sales-ready prospects by starting with less costly one-to-many marketing techniques. Salespeople and telemarketing are costly, so they’re best for only the qualified prospects. You can invest about the same amount per lead to reach longer-term prospects twelve times a year with a postcard or letter, and staying within reach over a longer buying cycle.

Create a series of emails.

  • What are the three or four major reasons why someone would buy from your company?
  • What would cause them to need your products or services?
  • Why would they select your company instead of the competition?

Create a series of emails with each addressing one of these points. Set up a schedule, and your prospects will get to know your best qualities until they’re ready to set a date.

Be sure each email (or call, for that matter) includes a suite of offers or calls to action that are designed to encourage the prospects to take the next step. Educational offers– how-to guides, checklists, case studies, white papers, and Web or live seminars on the same subjects– usually work best.

The key to your success is reaching the right prospect, at the right time, with the right offer. Prospects’ needs don’t change that dramatically. Success comes not from saying something completely different every time you contact them, but from the ongoing follow-up.

 

Pros and cons of Webinars for B2B lead generation

Webinars offer options for reaching out to and educating buyers at all stages of the lead generation cycle.

Your choice to do live, butts-in-seats events, or webinars will hinge on several factors, including the time needed to present the information, the needs of the customers or prospects you’re targeting, and the physical locations of attendees. Keep in mind these pros and cons when deciding how best to reach your audience.

Pros of Webinars

  • Less time: It’s easier to get on attendees’ calendars if you’re only asking for 30-60 minutes.
  • No travel: Your audience and can join in from their desks or home offices. In today’s marketplace, prospects are coming from different time zones and personal schedules. It’s also a big plus for presenters.
  • Usually cost less. If you fly in presenters, renting a meeting space and equipment, and provide refreshments it can add up.
  • Viral marketing: To put it simply, attendees can invite others easily and they’re more likely to because it’s easier to attend than an event you have to travel to.
  • Record the webinar. If someone’s registered but doesn’t show up, you have an easy way of giving them a second chance at their convenience. Follow up by auto-responder email. You’ll get extra “bonus” attendance. And don’t forget, you can put it on your website as content to draw in web visitors.
  • You can do live, interactive demos over the Web. You can use web conferencing software or services to demonstrate your software right on participants’ own computers. They can follow along as you click through each step, or you can let them manipulate their own mice and keyboards.
  • It’s easier to attract guest speakers. If a speaker can participate from his or her own home or office, they’re much more likely to rather than having to travel to the event. You could even save a few dollars because professional speakers usually charge more when they travel.

Cons of Webinars.

  • You may not have participants’ undivided attention. It’s easy for attendees to be interrupted by colleagues or staff, or to get distracted by phones or e-mail while your webinar or teleconference is going on.
  • Time is limited. Webinars should last no longer than an hour. Shorter is even better.  If your material requires more time, perhaps break it into chunks that can be a series of webinars.

The Upshot

Busy C-level and senior executives will likely prefer the convenience of a quick webinar, whereas a user group may prefer the interaction of a live event such as a lunch-and-learn seminar. Give the audience your information in the way your audience wants to receive it. It’s much more likely your message will be heard, retained, and acted on.

 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com