The Big Event Podcast: Trade show follow up – Who, How and When?

the big event trade show follow up podcast

In this episode of The Big Event podcast, Akkroo’s Mike Robinson, Head of Demand Generation, and Stefan Cordery, Marketing Manager discuss the important subject of post-tradeshow follow-up. They may be substantial in cost, but trade shows offer massive potential thanks to face-time with prospects. It’s therefore paramount to have a solid follow-up plan in place.

In this episode, we cover:

  • The importance of following up with leads after an event
  • What makes a great follow-up
  • Who should be reaching out to prospects
  • The key components of a successful follow-up campaign

Watch the recording below.

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Read the transcript

Trade Show Follow-up – Who, How and When? A conversation between Mike Robinson, Head of Demand Generation, Akkroo [M] and Stefan Cordery, Marketing Manager, Akkroo [S].

S: Hello and welcome to the big event, I’m Stefan from Akkroo and joining me today is…

M: Hi, I’m Mike from Akkroo, head of demand generation, responsible for keeping the sales team busy and generating those all important, qualified leads.

S: So, today we’re talking about the all important follow-up after a trade show. And the reason Mike and I wanted to get on camera is that both of us, we work together, but both of us have been involved in trade shows and events from a sales and marketing perspective. We’ve been involved in that kind of important pre-planning, the actual delivery, being on the trade show booth, and the follow up, both at Akkroo and previous employers.

Just wanted to address the elephant in the room, which is we’re both wearing blue shirts, sat on blue sofas with blue cushions…didn’t get the memo last night about that! Hopefully, that won’t affect your viewing.

M: On trend, blue’s in, blue’s in…

S: Exactly! So with that out of the way, follow-up, why is it so important?

M: Well, it sounds obvious, but unless you’re a very transactional business, in which you can close new business on your trade show stand, you’re going to need to follow-up, to nurture, to further qualify, and then to take them down that sales and marketing journey to close that new business.

Just like a form on your website or a LinkedIn ad, the event or trade show is often just the initial conversation. View it as that initial conversation that kicks off the in-depth sales process.

S: Yep, I think follow-up is really important as well because there is research out that is saying so many businesses don’t even follow up after a trade show, which seems crazy, but trade shows are competitive environments. So if you’re there and you’re in a crowded market, if you’re following up and your competitors aren’t, well you’ve got the competitive advantage. So that’s really important.

M: Yeah, definitely

S: And on that research, it was Harvard Business Review, I think, that was saying that leave your follow up as much, or as little as a week and you see a fifty percent drop off in the success of making contact with those leads.

Ok, so we’ve talked a bit about the importance of following up, you know, that’s obvious. Let’s talk about following up in a timely fashion.

M: Following up in a timely fashion – key. The time and speed of follow-up has a huge impact on success and ultimately the ROI of an event. If I attend your trade show booth, have a good conversation with you today and you follow-up tomorrow, you’re still front of mind…still very much on my top priority to-do list. Follow-up the day after, still probably true to a certain degree, but leave it any more than a few days and you’re getting further and further down that list. And, as mentioned, about the competitive nature of trade shows, if you follow-up within 5 days, chances are your competitors may have already followed up and made contact with me, and I may be two or three steps down the sales funnel, and disqualified your business as a result of that.

S: I think as well, it’s…how would you expect to be treated like going to a trade show? If you’re interested in something, you want that follow-up, you’re expecting it from that business, so it’s a given that you should get it.

M: Yeah, definitely.

S: So, why you should follow-up, following up in a timely fashion. Another thing that seems quite important is, you know, who…who should follow-up? If I come to your trade show stand and I talk to you, should it be you following up with me? Or, what are your thoughts on that?

M: I think who follows up isn’t the, there isn’t one solution that fits all. I think it’s really dependent on the type of business you operate, the quality of information you’ve collected, the stage in which you see that prospect in the sales and marketing funnel. Erm, and the type of visitors in attendance.

So, if you’re manning the stand, a business development intern at an engineering company, you speak to a really hot prospect that are a really good-fit company, but you’re reaching your technical knowledge kind of limit, on the follow-up of that contact, it’s probably worth bringing in someone with a bit more technical knowledge. You might lead that follow-up or you might just simply pass it over for the follow-up.

Whereas I dunno, you work for a software company, you’re an account executive, again, you speak to a good-fit company, good-fit contact, you’re probably very well placed for that follow-up and to take them on the rest of that journey.

I think what’s vitally important is that sales and marketing agree who follows up before the event. Agree what the triggers are and what the enrolment criteria are for follow-up. You know, if X, Y and Z have answered, pass it to sales, if not, pass to sales development. But it’s all about planning and agreeing before to ensure a successful event.

S: Yeah, I mean we [Akkroo] definitely when we’re planning our stuff for events, we have meetings quite a long way out before the event don’t we, to understand who owns what.

Ok, so with that said and now, not getting too technical but, you know, how do you follow-up? What are the components of that follow-up back at the office?

M: I think, first of all, you should have your leads available in your CRM system or wherever you store your customer information. And we’re talking not just the name, email address, but those additional qualifying questions and answers to those that provide context to the conversation you had at the trade show. That enables personalised follow-up. So when I say personalised follow-up, I don’t mean replacing “Hi there” with “Hi first name”, “Hi Stefan”, I mean really drilling into the conversation you had and addressing those points.

S: Yep, providing that value. Yeah definitely one of my pet hates is you, and I’m sure you’ve had this as well, where you have a conversation on the stand, you give a lot of information across. You’ve got your name, job title and company, and perhaps the rep has taken down information about, you know, your business challenges and what you’re interested in. And then, you get the follow-up and that’s not referenced or they’re asking for it all again, that information, or they give you a call and they’ve got your name, but you have the conversation completely again? And it just seems like a waste of time. I could have just gone to their website and put my details in and expected a call.

M: Yeah, definitely had that experienced before – repeating information and kind of providing duplicate information. It doesn’t paint a good picture of their business.

S: No.

M: I mean, with event lead follow-up, there is no silver bullet. It’s much like demand generation. It’s the sum of channels and sum of activity that really drive that success. But in terms of the practicalities, a real strong, pre-planned cadence of email touch points, phone touch points and social touch points really make a huge difference.

Make sure you’re adding catch-up meetings with the team after the show. You know, the day you get back to the office, the week after, two weeks after and kind of going forward until you draw the line. As you do that, you’ll be continually building your internal event follow-up playbook, which is kind of a really important tool for driving return on investment from shows.

S: Yeah, great, so, anything else you want to close on their Mike, at all?

M: No, that’s all from me!

S: Good stuff! Ok, well, in closing, hopefully, that’s been useful for you. Just to recap then, we spoke about the importance of follow-up, following up in a timely fashion, who should do that follow-up and also we dug a little into the components that kind of make that follow-up back at the office.

Make sure to subscribe using the links provided, and if events play a key part in your marketing strategy, we’ve got a great resources page on our website at akkroo.com/resources

I think that’s it?

M: Yep, nice one

S: Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.

M: See you next time!

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