A little regarded fact about trade shows is that the real work to learn whether attending a show has been a success or not begins not at the start of the event, but after – once the team has returned to the office. We are talking about follow-up on the contacts you’ve made. Business is about seizing the opportunity and no company can afford to sit back, waiting for the phones to start ringing. You have to kick off the conversation, especially if you want to convert sales leads to actual sales. The chief tool for post-trade show communication is the follow-up email. If you don’t have one, better adopt the practice today and we’re here to show you how to do it.
You need to reach as many potential customers as soon as possible upon your return. Therefore, it is not feasible to craft individual letters to each person. That’s inefficient and takes valuable time from other post-show activities. To manifest the trade show benefits, you have the first three days after travelling back to continue the conversations you’ve had. An all-purpose template gives you the necessary speed to go through the entire list of potential customers you’ve spent the trade show filling. Ideally it should be the person who took a leadership position during the trade show to take on the responsibility of the post-show communication.
As with every marketing tool (and don’t be fooled – the follow-up email is a marketing tool) there is an art to guarantee yours will get a reply. Much has been written about subject lines, and you’ve to discover what works for you best. As a rule, keep the subject line short and snappy. You want to be concise (reads as professional), polite and understandable. Communicate clearly who you are and why you’re getting in touch with. A personal name, a company name and the name of the trade show should suffice.
You might think you’re helping by going in as much as detail as possible about your company and the product in question you’re trying to sell. But this is not a place to list all your promotions and offers. The recipient most likely has to sift through numerous emails of this nature, especially if they are a buyer. Don’t overdo it. Get your statement and purpose across with as fewer words as possible. This is what gets you a reply. The rest can be filled in later during the conversation. You want a potential customer to ask questions about what you offer. Hook them in with just a taste of what you have to offer.
Just because someone stopped by your stand at the trade show and left their contact information does not mean they have made commitment to purchase. To approach anyone in a follow-up email with questions of “when can I send you a quote” or “how much would you like to buy” comes off as forceful tactics. It also communicates that you have one goal in mind and that is to make sales. Follow-up emails serve as a re-introduction. You’re picking up a conversation you may have had in person or opening a new dialogue altogether. The strategy here is to appear as a person first and a brand second. Business is built on human connections and trust. With the right choice in words and friendliness, a follow-up email has stronger chances to lead to customer conversion.
We save this tip for last, because it’s not possible to apply in every single case. Some contacts are made hastily during the trade show without much prior interaction. But then there are those (the arguably more valuable ones) with whom you’ve chatted a bit in line for a vendor, shared a joke or got into a conversation over the show’s programming. If you’ve had an interaction that makes you easy to remember, include it in the follow-up email. This is what we refer as a call-back. This personal connection is what adds weight, when a potential customer has to choose which email to answer first and gives you extra edge when it comes to deciding which brand deserves business.