If you attend conferences and trade shows as a supplier like I do, then you often find yourself coming back to your office with a big collection of cards. We also come back to a lot of work that has piled up in our absence, and that often means that the leads that we generated at the conference can either be delayed for follow up or altogether forgotten.
In fact research shows that 90% of trade show leads are not followed up at all. That’s a lost investment most of us can’t afford.
Many of us have technology which allows us to scan our cards right at the conference, which is hugely efficient, and some of us still come home like I do and use the older CardScan devices on our desktops. However you manage your business contacts, here are some tips on how to stay in touch with the folks you met at the booths:
- First, remember that they too have been away from work. Send a quick email or note to acknowledge your meeting, but delay actual followup for about a week or ten days, perhaps even more. They are likely to be deluged with emails and calls by everyone else they met, and your waiting just a short while allows you to stand out. You won’t get lost in the crush of everyone else’s email. Consider if the conference is close to a holiday, like right now when July 4th is close by. Wait until the holiday is over and then contact them.
- Second, people aren’t going to remember us for the most part. When you call, start with your value proposition again to help them recall who you are. If you’re calling a big company they probably talked to thousands of people. Don’t expect them to know who you are right off the bat, and get offended when they ask for a reminder. Be gracious and tell them again.
- Third, have your virtual collateral to send them right away. Chances are they didn’t want something physical to take home. So have top quality materials they can socialize internally to help you build visibility for your products and services.
Finally, be patient. If you’re trying to get into a big company like the Fortune 500 corporations I deal with, you’re going to need to develop patience. If they don’t have a need right away for your product or service, they won’t get back to you quickly. It’s a process. It can take years. But it is worth it. It’s all about relationships and finding the right fit with the right company.
Whatever you do, make sure you are always gracious, appreciative and kind. Corporate people are busy and often have limited staff, and there are thousands of us. They remember the calls from suppliers who take these facts into consideration.