One of the biggest challenges of attending a trade show or conference is gathering enough qualified leads. After all, for most companies, exhibiting at a trade show is expensive. Besides paying for exhibit booth space, you are also shelling out money for travel, hotel reservations, food, swag, and booth supplies.
To make the investment worthwhile, many salespeople are encouraged to “scan and spam.”
What does that mean?
It means that salespeople will scan everyone using a badge scanner that approaches them at a booth regardless of whether those attendees are good leads or not. So, what happens is that you return to your office with what you think is an extensive list of valuable leads, only to discover after several phone calls and emails, you ended up mostly inferior prospects.
Sure, some prospects may work at first-rate companies where you may eventually find valuable leads to contact. But for the most part, you just wasted your time and money.
Why do salespeople scan and spam?
First, because not all organizations that sponsor trade shows will provide vendors (you) with a list of attendees, thus, you are forced to acquire contact information from anyone and everyone that visits your booth.
Second, even if the organization that sponsors the trade show does provide an attendee list, the purchasing fee for that information may be too high or cost prohibitive. For example, some organizations may require you to become a sponsor to receive attendee lists. On the surface, being a sponsor isn’t a bad idea – it’s good PR – but it could be too costly for your budget.
And finally, laziness. Some salespeople are just too damn lazy to qualify attendees and decide to scan everyone’s badges and hope for the best.
Which brings me to a better solution.
Rather than scan and spam, this is what I suggest you do –
First, qualify attendees who visit your booth. You can quickly do this by asking a series of questions to determine if you have a hot prospect or a window shopper. Questions can range from “What caught your eye at our booth?” “Why are you attending this trade show?” “What are some of the pain points you are facing at your company?”
Your goal is to quickly determine if you are speaking with a potential key decision maker or influencer, or are you speaking with an intern or a low-level employee who has no clout at his company, and thus, has little interest in what you are selling.
If the person you are speaking with fits your ideal criteria, politely ask to scan his badge. Then, if you’re not too busy, show him around your booth or do a short demo (if you have a laptop and a big screen) of what you are selling.
Second, even if you don’t have an attendee list, if you have been in the industry for a while, you should know who the major players are that you want to target. So, contact potential attendees by email and direct mail, and invite them to visit your booth. Or, better, schedule a one-on-one meeting with them at the trade show. And to make this process even more comfortable, include a link to Calendarly in your email invitation.
Third, if you have enough employees attending a trade show, encourage them to attend workshops and other presentations, or early morning breakfast sessions, to network to find qualified leads.
And finally, don’t forget attending social networking events which are always prevalent and popular, as another means of finding good leads.
Scanning and Spamming is outdated.
It’s also counterproductive and could hurt your company’s reputation and brand. The better approach is to be more strategic by setting specific priorities on who you should speak to during and after a trade show. In the long run, you will come out ahead.