You spent the money for an exhibit at the International Builders’ Show and all the travel and entertainment that comes along with it. It’s a sizeable expense. But most companies think it’s worth their while.
They tell themselves that, other than dealing with the problems of Orlando, it was a good show.
This opinion is usually anecdotal and is also based on the fact that most of the visitors to your booth already use and like your product.
You Probably Came Away With Some Leads.
Hopefully, they’re from builders who actually have an interest in your product, and I hope you also captured why they are interested.
Too many building materials companies don’t get enough out of these leads. They still just mail a brochure, send an email and leave a voice mail. If they don’t get a response, they assume the builder wasn’t really interested and they abandon the lead.
Unless they know how to properly follow up, most building materials companies can’t show a measurable sales increase from their trade show investment. And that means they just wasted a lot of money that could have been spent on another marketing program with better results.
Patience and Measurement:
The Two Keys to Turning Trade Show Leads into Sales
Following up the right way is simple. All you need to do is be patient enough to wait until the builder is ready to buy and to make sure that you’re tracking your results.
Why Patience Pays Off
If the builder took the time to stop by your booth, they probably have a real interest in your product.
But in your haste to make a sale, you might lose it because you fail to recognize:
- How time-consuming, costly and risky it is for a builder to make a change.
- That it may not be the right time – they may have other priorities that have to be dealt with first.
- They may not be the ultimate decision maker – there may be someone above them or a group of people that have to be on board.
When I Interview Builders After The Show, Here’s What They Tell Me:
- I’m glad I went to show. I went with a list of a few products I wanted to check out, and I also discovered a few new ones.
- When I get back to the office, I’m busier than usual. I have a thousand things to do because I have been away for a while.
- Everyone sends me a “Thanks for Stopping by Our Booth” email, and they all read as if they were written by the same person. I don’t waste my time opening most of them.
- When I’m ready to revisit what I learned at IBS, I don’t start by contacting the company. Instead, I spend more time online. I learned a lot at the show, but part of what I learned was what I don’t know and what else I need to know. So, I go online to get some answers. The company whose site has the most helpful information can pull me away from the company I visited at IBS.
- Once I’ve gained more internal support and done more research, then I’m ready to talk business.
- The best companies stay in contact with me by sending emails that provide helpful information instead of trying to close the deal before I’m ready.
Be patient with your leads. It can easily take six months or more before they’re ready to buy.
Why Measurement Pays Off
The beauty of CRM programs like Salesforce and marketing automation programs like Hubspot is that they can measure everything:
- We spent this many dollars on the trade show.
- We came away with this many leads.
- Six to twelve months later, we have gained these new builder customers who represent this many dollars in annual sales.
- This is how much return we got from our trade show investment.
If you aren’t using CRM or Marketing Automation, you can still measure the results with a spreadsheet. But either way, you’ve got to measure them, or you won’t know whether you’re making money or just wasting it.
- Do what you say you’ll do. You’d be amazed at how many builders tell me they’ve asked a company to mail them something or for a rep to contact them only to never hear from the company. This gives the impression that the builder cannot trust you. Not good! If the builder needs anything, he needs to deal with reliable companies.
- If you have a good relationship with your distributors, dealers or independent reps (which you should!), share the leads with them and work with them to close more sales. They may very well have a better relationship with the builder than you do.
- Keep the leads and invite them to stop by your booth at next year’s IBS.
Don’t Throw Your Money Away
One of the biggest mistakes I see building material companies make is wasting money on marketing programs that don’t get results. If you’re not converting customers from your trade show leads, you’re wasting money – and probably a lot of it.
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Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.
“Good article Mark! Thanks”
Regional Sales Manager
Protecto Wrap Company