Ask any sales person worth their salt. They'll tell you. Rarely do you close a sale without great follow up.
So when it comes to major exhibitions like K 2016, does your company have a good follow-up plan for the leads generated at your stand?
Wittmann Battenfeld, known the plastics world over for its entertaining displays of its robots playing basketball or changing tires on a race car, makes sure every visitor to its exhibit receives a “thank you” the same day or the next day, said Sonny Morneault, vice president of sales for the U.S. division.
From there, the Wittmann leads are distributed to the proper sales people via an Excel spreadsheet (old method) or via a CRM system based on a customer survey (new method), Morneault said.
It doesn't always work, of course.
“At a previous trade show, we somehow neglected to follow up on a lead with a client,” Morneault said. “Fast forward to the next show and the customer came into our booth and said, ‘You guys never followed up with me, so I called your competitor.'
“Obviously, this is the absolute worst thing that can happen. We spend so much time, energy and money to create these leads and to not follow up and have them contact a competitor is unacceptable. Of course, we've put policies and procedures in place to prevent that from ever happening again,” Morneault said.
Just think of what you saw at the K show. You immediately took in the two-story stands populated with scores of staff members. These companies spent hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros and more on their exhibitions. The smaller stands may not have invested as much. But every lead counts, no matter the company size.
Jim Bott of hot runner maker Incoe made were sure every qualified visitor to its booth at K is logged into its system. These prospects were then fed to a specific sales person and the marketing team. The director of sales then made sure the sales person follows up.
Does anyone every get missed? “You hope not,” said Bott, business development manager.
Petra Cullman is Messe Düsseldorf's global portfolio director, plastics & rubber. Along with her team, she ran K 2016 with its more than 3,000 exhibitors and 200,000-plus attendees.
Her advice for exhibitors was to send stand visitors an offer quickly, including prices and estimated delivery times. Unfortunately, Cullman knows that doesn't always happen.
“I've heard many times that visitors complained about poor or no follow-up, sometimes even after having sent a reminder. For me, it's absolutely incomprehensible: Companies spend a lot of money for attending a trade show and then they don't pay attention to interested potential customers,” Cullman said.
But what about the 200,000 visitors to K? What advice did Cullman have for them when they visit an exhibitor?
“Say openly what they need and expect and when. Specify their interest. Don't hide that they are in contact with competitors. Ask detailed questions on what the offer includes. If attendees are not seriously interested, that shouldn't waste the time and money of the supplier,” Cullman said.
Always be closing. That's the famous line from Alec Baldwin's character from, “Glengarry Glen Ross,” an iconic film about a group of real estate salesmen. Despite what that film preaches, you can't close most sales without good leads. And you can't close those leads without great follow up.
Lafferty is vice president & group publisher at Crain Communications and publisher of Plastics News. Follow him on Twitter @brennanlafferty.