Best Lead Follow-up Techniques for 2017

Ever since Forbes reported back in 2012 that only 27% of Internet-generated leads ever get contacted, the science of lead follow-up has undergone a serious and much-needed overhaul. Today, trade show marketing professionals have an amazing combination of prospect follow-up tools to leverage. Has your trade show follow-up strategy kept up with the pace?

The best lead management practices for 2017 successfully combine personal, one-to-one follow-up techniques with mobile, social and automated lead nurturing and lead tracking tools.

Get Personal: Phone Calls, Emails and Postcards

As most trade show veterans know, it’s critical to follow up with trade show prospects within the first 24-48 hours after the show. Generally, this is the time to use more personal communication options, such as phone calls and one-to-one emails. You’ve presumably already met the prospect in person, shaken their hand, and hopefully had a few minutes to ask some questions about their pain points and needs. Reaching out via phone and email with follow-up questions gives you an opportunity to fine-tune your product or service offering, as well as to remind the prospect of your name and company.

It’s important not to give up too soon. LeadSimple reports that 80% of salespeople give up after the third contact attempt, but that 50% of sales actually occur after the fifth contact. That’s why they encourage multiple phone and email touchpoints during the first 20 days as part of their property manager’s sales course.

lead-simple-follow-up
LeadSimple recommends 10 follow-up contact attempts over a 20-day period.

Assuming you were able to obtain your prospect’s full mailing address during the show, you might also consider enrolling him or her in a personalized postcard series. You can use these to invite the prospect to special events, offer discounts and limited-time promotions, or provide PURLs linking to free downloads or custom content.

ontraport-postcard-series
Personalized postcards can help you connect with prospects and help your business stand apart from competitors.

If time and manpower are limited, there are several CRM platforms, including Ontraport, that can do this for you.

Build Community (and Loyal Followers) with Slack

When it comes to trade show contacts, often times the lead is interested (and qualified), but simply not in a position to buy right this minute. Successful salespeople make a long-term commitment to educating, supporting and nurturing qualified prospects along their journey – no matter how long it takes.

By using certain tools, you can continue to stoke a prospect’s interest over the long haul, while also letting them know that you hear them and that you’re responsive to their queries.

For example, by creating a new Slack community around a topic that’s of interest to both prospects and customers, you’re offering a safe, no-pressure, non-sales space where members can post questions and discuss their pain points. As an added bonus, your existing customers can serve as brand ambassadors by contributing advice and suggestions based on their experience with your product or service.

sample-slack-community
Here’s an example of a Slack community created for Shopify users.

Slack communities are a great way for salespeople to stay abreast of the issues facing their constituents. And with Slack’s direct-messaging functionality, private follow-up conversations are easily facilitated.

Create a Buzz with Facebook Live

facebook-live
With Facebook Live, you can tell fans ahead of time when you’ll be broadcasting.

Hosting a streaming video event through Facebook Live is another way to stay in touch with leads obtained from trade shows. You can use the time to answer individual questions, run demos, give webinars, or announce new products and services.

Facebook Live videos can be viewed on your Facebook page or embedded directly into your own website. They are automatically recorded and placed into your news feed, where they can generate even more traffic after the event.

See this great article with answers to more questions about Facebook Live.

Educate and Inform with Drip Email Campaigns

At some point, you may be tempted to pour some gasoline on the lead follow-up fire by simply adding your trade show prospects’ email addresses into your standard email marketing subscriber list … but that could be a mistake. In general, unless they’ve specifically subscribed to your email newsletter ON THEIR OWN, prospects don’t want to be on the receiving end of anything that looks like a generic batch-and-blast promotional email. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still send your prospects automated or triggered emails.

What prospects want more than anything is to be educated so that they can make an informed decision about how to address their pain points. So instead of sending promotional emails, you’ll want to devise a series of emails that position your brand as an authority in the industry by providing rich, engaging, solutions-oriented content that’s relevant to the prospect. These types of emails are generally low on graphics and more “letter-like” in their presentation.

biotrust-email
A good example of a content-rich drip email campaign from BioTRUST Nutrition.

Summing Up

Obviously, the tone and timing of your trade show lead follow-up and lead nurturing strategy will vary depending on your particular target audience. However, to stand out from the crowd and improve your chances of making the sale, it’s clear that a long-term, big-picture, multi-platform approach works best.

Additional Sources Cited: Why Companies Waste 71% Of Internet Leads (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2012/07/12/the-black-hole-that-executives-dont-know-about/#3e41f7c37150)

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