John Hasbrouck is founder and president of NewLeads, which provides custom integrated software for companies seeking to boost the quality of the leads they gather from trade shows. He spoke with FTL about how b2b sales execs can take better advantage of attending trade shows.
Follow the Lead: What are the major challenges for b2b sales execs who attend trade shows?
Hasbrouck: The major challenge is to look at trade shows to see which ones are shrinking and dying, and why, and target the correct shows to go to with the understanding that attendees who go to shows now, while fewer in number, are more strategic to their own companies because companies don’t allow non-essential people to go trade shows. Those days are gone, for now.
FTL: How is the iPad changing the lead-gen process at trade shows?
Hasbrouck: You’re no longer understanding the process as lead retrieval – ‘Hi John, let me scan your card and we’ll send you something,’ which is just garbage collecting. [With the iPad] you’re going to arm every rep [at the show] with a sales-and-marketing lead collecting device so it leaps past the old concept of lead retrieval and puts [the process] into something where the sales rep has all the collateral, all the videos and all of the presentations so every question the prospect asks can be answered with a few touches on the iPad. Now John becomes engaged in the booth because he’s got something to touch and feel and all of his questions are answered right there. It draws him into the conversation and closer to being a sales-ready lead.
FTL: Do you think b2b sales execs short shrift trade shows?
Hasbrouck: They absolutely discount trade shows as the first thing they can cut and they do it because they don’t have concrete answers from the results of the show. The remedy is to say if we’re going to [attend] trade shows, we have to have a strategy and a target and we’ve got to have a tool that allows us to not only to engage the people we want to engage but to detail them as sales-ready leads. Sales VPs need to ask: How many qualified sales-ready leads did we get at that show? Here you have the best face-to-face arena ever created, but if it the strategy is not properly executed it becomes the biggest waste of money of anything you have because there’s no measurement.
FTL: How can sales and marketing alignment help to improve lead gen at trade shows?
Hasbrouck: What sales and marketing can do is determine in advance, from every show they attend, what their target is and they can align that with their CRM. The question for marketing becomes: What’s the data we’re trying to collect for salespeople? and What collateral needs to be on the iPad? That starts with a conversation between the marketing and the sales managers so the questions they ask attendees at the [trade] show are the proper questions. So, in terms of mechanics, and making sure the leads are detailed, are right, that’s usually where the process falls apart…Sales directors need to take ownership of the lead collection and strategy process at trade shows and make sure the process is in place for sales-ready leads to get immediately delivered to the sales team.