How do exhibitors make the most of their leads?

I previously spoke about the sort of preparation you can do before arriving onsite to exhibit at an event which can help you get the most out of the event itself. 

But what happens when you get to event time?

I keep seeing blogs or posts referring to “help needed with activity we can do on our stand” to entice people in or to grab their attention, but very rarely are there many words of wisdom (responses) about how you can maximise the return on the leads you’ve generated at the event.

There is one pretty bold and slightly terrifying statistic; that 80% of leads aren’t followed up from an event. Imagine if you went on a date and didn’t follow up within a month… will it go anywhere? Unlikely! Ok, so maybe you didn’t want to follow up on that “lead,” so here’s a better example… at an event, can you afford to throw away £8,000 / £80,000 / £800,000 worth of business?

Obviously this depends on your business model, but I’m pretty sure if I had to tell my boss I just threw away 80% of the leads I have been trying for months to generate – I might not have another blog post to write!

So what can you do to better improve your offering?


You’ve designed your stand, ordered your furniture, booked the team that will be onsite, got the products you want to show, so you’re ready right? Well, you’re nearly there… now for the most crucial part.

How are you going to follow up on any of the 000’s of conversations that you will have over the course of 1/2/3/4/5 days of an event? Here’s a test for you… when you go into the office in the morning, ask someone who you don’t normally speak to three things about themselves that you didn’t know before. Two days later – can you go back to them and repeat those three things (without having noted them down)?

I’m hoping you can because you’ve probably already got a working relationship with them (and it might just come across as rude if you can’t). Now imagine multiplying that by 100 or more conversations, all with slightly different answers in a condensed amount of time, with 100 other distractions going on (including an exhibitor party!) – will you remember just one of those three things that could be the crucial piece of information you need to win a new client?

So you need to capture the right information in the first place to ensure you can follow up with your leads effectively.

There is plenty of technology out there that can help assist you and most events offer some form of lead capture, but you need to ensure you are capturing information relevant to your business, to help you close that new deal. Don’t just capture everyone’s names and email addresses.

For example if you sell cars, do you know which car your lead wanted? Do you remember the colour? The alloys? The stereo package? Did he want UV lights and a booming sounds system? Or even which dealership should follow up on the lead? Not very good if all you know is “Matt wanted a car”.

Some people in the UK might have watched The Apprentice last week where one of the hopefuls forgot the name of the supplier of the product they were trying to sell. His team lost the product because he called the guy by a different name… It was as simple a fault as that!

If you’re not capturing the right information (and I don’t just mean scribbles on a notepad / business card!) how are you going to efficiently respond to those leads and generate new sales, which 87% of exhibitors rate as the primary reason they exhibit?

Top Tips to remember:

  • Sort out your onsite lead capture tool early
  • Plan the questions you want to ask your potential customers
  • Brief your event staff on what information you want to capture from your leads

Don’t leave it to chance that the customer will come back to you – they may have seen 20 of your competitors today, so get the advantage and get the customer by following up with the information relevant to that lead, in real-time!

Remember, they came to find you – the most decent thing you could do is get back to them with relevant information.

About the Author

Matt  Coyne

Matt has been working in events & exhibitions for over 15 years. From organising, to design, to website, and onto registration, engagement and intelligent data services, Matt has extensive experience at every level. With a background in organisation, marketing and design Matt is able to cut through the technology and approach engagement and registration solutions with the end users in mind. As Group Commercial Director for Visit by GES and an active participant in the industry, Matt has been involved in a variety of industrywide research projects and is an expert in creating effective event experiences.

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