How to Generate Leads on the Floor
Turning trade show foot traffic into potential customers

Generating proper leads is paramount in exhibition circles, and a large part of this is sorting out the customers' needs from what you actually provide. At the exhibition, visitors will be keen to tell you all sorts of information about themselves and what they are looking for. Once you have contact with the customer it is important that you know who the customer is and how you can do business with them. Setting customers up with false expectations by offering them the world will only end up in frustration, disappointment and sales that take a dramatic turn downwards.

It’s not essential that you make sales on the exhibition floor space – although this shock and awe strategy is effective for some products like mobile phone contracts and credit cards. In business-to-business relationships or more long term relations, contact ideally extends beyond the pleasant conversation you had in the booth. For this purpose lead slips are perfect for providing information about your customer and creating a follow-up plan after the event. See also Seven Successful Trade Show Follow-up Strategies.

Lead slips are something that the customer might fill out, or you can fill it out in the moments after the conversation. They tell you who the customer is and what their needs are. Lead slips are valuable after the event as they provide extensive data, both qualitative and quantitative, that can be analyzed in the office and after the rush and bustle of the trade fair.

Gustavo Correa, North America Displays Corporation’s Sales Manager, explains how he becomes more efficient through lead slips. “The lead slip is the foundation of our exhibition follow-up when we sit down and take a balanced look at who we’ve talked to,” he says. “We don’t just use leads to get emails or telephone numbers, we also use lead slips to qualify leads after the event, work out who our customers are in depth, and then understand not only what their expressed needs were, but also what they might need but haven’t expressed. We can create valuable sales this way, and let our customers know that we understand their market – we are more professional that way.”

First and foremost, the lead slip should include an area where the customer can fill out contact details. Beyond this you need to provide a clear, structured response to whom exactly your potential client is. This can take the form of tick boxes or a quick survey that can also have a free comments section at the end. Understanding the customer is pivotal, as it tells you not only who you’re dealing with, but what goods or services you are most likely to sell to your customers..

Your lead slip should also include an area where your customer can provide feedback Your visitor has come to the fair for a specific reason and they will want to come away from the event either with the solution or knowing who they can contact to get that solution.

At the travel fair, it might be knowing who can book full service trips to Rome, while a telecommunications client at a point of sales at the train station might what to know if you have the right telephone at the right prices. Whatever the case, this customer need is where you start you next contact with the customer – where you send a suggestion for the trip or a price structure for the iPhone.

The lead slip doesn’t have to be fancy but it does have to be practical. When you design it you have to focus on content rather than form. These days, technology means that we can now use computers that stream client information direct to databases – it’s certainly efficient but not always necessary. As long as we keep in mind that we need to get the customers contact details, find out who they are and what they need, we will always have something to do after the exhibition, and be that much closer to building successful business relations over the long term.