As a business owner, I know that a positive cash flow beats everything else. To have positive cash flow, you have to have a “positive customer flow”. Most businesses have competitors nipping at their heels.
When I first got into business back in the 60’s, the primary means of growing a customer base was meeting prospects face-to-face. In retrospect, what we were doing was staggeringly inefficient. I recall driving around the country to meet with prospects, feeling fortunate if I could squeeze in a three or four calls a day.
Today I can be in contact with a half-dozen customers via the Internet in an hour. What is more, before contacting them by phone or GoToMeeting, I can a gather a great deal of information from the tools we use to automate our workflow: Salesforce, Linkedin and Hubspot.
A prospect that browses the Internet or a magazine’s ads generally does not invest a significant amount of time and money in his search. On the other hand, a trade show attendee does invest significant time and money to search for goods and services.
Companies make significant investments of money in Internet-related services in order to identify and market to prospective customers. They also invest to exhibit in trade shows. Leads acquired via the web are typically followed up, especially where automated inbound marketing is utilized. When it comes to trade show leads, the story is rather different. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry:
Research (CEIR), over 70 percent of trade show leads are never followed up, not even one time.
There are reasons for this dismal statistic, but none that cannot be overcome. Imagine investing tens of thousands of dollars to exhibit at a trade show, then not following up your leads. After all, each lead is in reality a person that invests several days of his time and hundreds, or more likely thousands, of dollars to attend an event, one major purpose of which is to meet prospective suppliers.
What kind of money is at stake? Here’s a personal example. The president of a company that exhibited at CeBit, the big banking and technology fair in Hannover, Germany visited us in New York about six months after the trade show. I inquired about his company’s success at the show. He responded that things went extremely well. Despite their very small exhibit, they acquired over 300 leads. I asked what kind of business resulted. Red-faced, he admitted that none had simply because upon returning to San Diego he and his staff had no time to pursue their leads. They were too busy catching up on work that had accumulated in their absence. Just following up using an automated system could have solved the problem.
As a business owner, I value every lead. Where someone staffing an exhibit booth is likely focused on sales for this quarter or next, I am looking at the longer term. Automating your lead follow-up could prevent viable longer term leads from being consigned to the garbage.