After the woodworking trade shows are done (see last week’s blog), everyone is excited about the leads the show produced. The salespeople come back from the show and have great plans to follow up on every lead. As they enter the door at work, the mass voicemail load of missed calls, production memos, emails and snail mail take all the fire out of their initiative. The sales team gets caught up in the everyday life of business as the great leads from the show quickly fade.

To counteract this natural dilemma, we help our clients with two steps of capturing the information gleaned from the show. The first step is to use a follow up system for all qualified leads. Note the word "qualified." Only leads that have passed our list of qualifying show questions are entered in the follow up system. For the system you can create an excel spreadsheet with the contact information or use one of the readily available software systems online like, ACT!, Nutshell, Batchbook, etc.

The second step is to assign one person the job of entering all the leads, and then assigning them to the right salesperson. If you are a small shop and that person is you, try to fill in leads during the slow times of the show. All shows have peak traffic flow hours and then very slow dribbles the rest of the day. By using online software systems, you can enter this information anytime of the day. Make sure to "tag" each lead with the show name and date. This way you can look back and see which shows actually turned into sales for you and which are duds.

The key action is to get all of the leads into the salesperson's hands as fast as possible, but it is not enough to pass the lead to them. You also have to make them accountable as to the results. By adding a future follow up on each assigned lead, you can track the results of each sales person’s efforts. The real goal is not to track the closure rate of your sales people, but to track the success and dollar return on your investment in the show.

Remember the key is to give your salespeople qualified, live leads that have a chance of actually closing. Once the sales people understand that you are bringing them warm, viable leads, the accountability and closure rate will follow.


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