With sales leads, process makes perfect
T he K-2007 trade fair in October and a full slate of international trade shows in 2008 give exhibitors and visitors alike the opportunity to look at an industry characterized by rapid innovation and ...
The K-2007 trade fair in October and a full slate of international trade shows in 2008 give exhibitors and visitors alike the opportunity to look at an industry characterized by rapid innovation and an impressive array of products. And, of course, the shows offer exhibitors the challenge of managing what most of us really come down for: sales leads.
To the inexperienced sales person, being flooded with sales leads may seem like they’ve hit the jackpot. But the reality is, quantity does not equal quality. Without a well-defined and proactive approach to managing your leads during and after the show, the more leads you end up with, the more burdensome will be the task of deter-to mining which ones you should pursue and which ones you should discard altogether.
THE “3G PROCESS”
As a sales manager, before unleashing your people out onto the show floor, gather them in a room for a few days before the show and review what I call the “3G process,” a series of steps designed to ensure the effective processing of sales leads at your booth.
STEP ONE: GENERATE
There are two common methods for generating leads at your booth. The first is by swiping your visitor’s card into a scanning device that will then save and print your visitor’s basic contact information and (depending on the models offered by the show contractor) any other information you have your scanner programmed to do. The second — and old fashioned — way of generating a lead is by collecting your visitor’s business card.
STEP TWO: GROUP
After capturing your visitor’s contact information, design a sheet that will reflect your visitor’s specific request as well as their purchasing intent with respect to your products and services. This custom sheet, to be attached with your visitor’s contact information, will eventually be used in step three.
STEP THREE: GRADE
Part three of this process entails prioritizing your leads for action — which leads will get responded to first. Unlike the first two steps mentioned above, this one will require some subjective judgement on the part of whoever is recording the lead.
For example, you may be inclined give all visitors requesting an official quote the highest priority, but, after talking with visitor X, you may determine that he is a reseller who is closely affiliated with one of your competitors. Contrast that with visitor Y, who has already purchased one or several of your products before and is ready to buy very shortly. Which one will you respond to first? Having said that, your priority ranking should be based on a) the time frame in which your visitor will be making a purchasing decision, and b) how close your visitor qualifies as your “target” customer. For example, your target customer is an injection molder and not a blow molder who is contemplating getting into the injection molding business two years from now.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: SYNTHESIZING YOUR INFORMATION
After prioritizing the urgency of your visitor’s request and capturing the approximate time with which they will place an order, if any, all information pertaining to your sales leads should be recorded and saved in an Excel spread sheet, where your sales people can easily isolate any of the variables assigned to the sales lead.
For example, if you are interested in all those visitors in Texas (variable #1) who requested a quote (variable #2) and whose purchasing window is two months (variable #3), you could do so with just a few clicks.
Alan Benlolo is the marketing manager at CDS, a Lachine, Que.-based manufacturer and global exporter of plastic extrusion machinery and systems. Alan has over 12 years experience in B2B marketing, and also works as a freelance copywriter and consultant for retailers who seek to improve their bottom line through more effective marketing strategies.