One excellent reason companies exhibit at expos and trade shows is to gather leads. Yet, industry estimates tell us that only 20% of leads are followed up after a show. You may have no control over what happens to a lead after a show is over, but you can make the lead follow-up process easy. By talking to the people who will actually be following up the leads, you will be able to gain an understanding of the information they need and create lead forms that generate real results.



Qualifying Questions


The first question you should ask your sales team is what information they need to know from potential and existing customers to determine if a lead is worth pursuing. Their input will improve the quality of your leads and make the follow up process easier.


Create questions from the information gathered from your discussion to assist your sales staff to prioritise, distribute and follow up on the leads. Open ended questions are a valuable resource in addition to simple yes/no and multiple choice questions. Some examples of good qualifying questions are:


  • Are you already a customer? If so, what products have you purchased in the past and how are they satisfying your needs? Are they changes you would make to improve them?
  • Which product(s) are you most interested in?
  • How do you put the product to use?
  • What is your next purchase?
  • What is your role within the purchasing process?


Put the questions in the logical order that your staff will most likely ask them. Beware of putting too many questions on the lead form and turning a conversation into an interrogation. I've heard that seven is the magic number of questions that won't put an attendee on the defensive, but some busy executives will draw the line at four, while others will happily answer an unlimited number of questions as long as they know you're taking notes.



Rate your Leads


Now that you’re armed with the information your sales reps needs, you can eliminate a time-consuming step for them by classifying the leads as you collect them.


Develop a rating system that gives leads rankings of A, B and C with criteria for each rating. For instance, if an attendee shows interest in your product, has ample budget and is authorised to purchase, they are an A lead. Someone who has shown interest but is not going to purchase for a while may be a B or C lead.


It’s good to remember that the answers given by an attendee shouldn’t be the only determining factor in rating the lead. Evaluating the behaviour of the attendees in your display area and the activities they take part in can also assist. Attendees who stayed for a presentation or watched a demonstration will generally be more qualified leads than prospects who did a ‘drive-by’ for a short presentation or didn’t talk to any of your staff.



Follow Up


Without basic contact and demographic information, a lead form is useless. If you are stapling a business card to a manual form, its a good idea to make sure it won't cover up any important information in the event that the follow up form is photocopied for distribution.


Its a good idea to ask attendees how and when they want salespeople to contact them. Give options on the follow up form that so that your staff can simply check a box next to the action that should be taken. Some options may be:

  • Give a personal demonstration
  • Send more information by mail or email
  • Sent catalogue or newsletter
  • Contact by phone, mail or email.

Don’t forget to leave a space to indicate if the attendee wants to be contacted at a specific date and time.


Make sure you have a way to identify the staff that collected the lead. You can then easily track who took the most qualifying leads, and coach the staff who are having difficulty gathering all the information on the form.



Additional tips:


  • Keep size in mind. Depending on the length of the form, you may wish to print them two or three to a page and then cut them for easy handling.
  • Provide a hard surface for writing.
  • Put your company’s name and logo in the title of the lead form, as well as the name of the show. This will help you to distinguish the leads from leads gathered at other shows.
  • Use a clear, easy to read font at a reasonable size (10 – 12 point) for legibility.
  • Leave space for comments. This can be used by the attendee or the staff and may include special requests or more qualifying data to be addressed after the show.  


Like any other design process form should follow function, especially when it comes to forme.

Including the people who will be using the leads will help you in the form design process take the lead with your customers, and turn your leads into sales.