Strategies for Qualifying Leads at Trade Shows

    Strategies for Qualifying Leads at Trade Shows

    Qualifying leads during a trade show can be challenging as there is no time for additional research. Everything occurs in real time with little room for error. Forgetting a name, writing down the incorrect contact information, absentmindedly gathering data without discrimination, or asking the wrong questions will waste time and money. In order to generate the best leads and maximize your efficiency prospecting at a trade show, follow these useful strategies.

    Pre-Trade Show Vision

    Get your team on the same page when it comes to mining new leads. Before you begin to plan your trade show booth rental and coordinate your travel, you’ll want to have a clear vision of what exactly makes an ideal lead. Gather input from marketing and sales to create a buyer profile that will then serve as a guide for your event staff. Setting specific targets, such as connecting with a hundred qualified leads per day based on your buyer profile and the estimated attendance, will keep trade show staff productive.


    Open-ended questions are disarming and create casual and natural conversations with ease, which is why the initial approach should be listener-focused. Questions borne of genuine curiosity, such as, “What brings you to the show today?” will often result in a quick qualification. Prepare your staff by reviewing a list of introductory open-ended questions that can help kick start effective communication. These questions should smoothly lead prospects into revealing their intentions, that is, if they are there as buyers or browsers.


    Once a prospect has passed the initial introduction, your trade show staff should start to probe to test for full potential. To do this, it is crucial to uncover their budget, power, needs, and any timing issues. The questions used for this process need to get to the point without wasting time, but should not be too blunt. Open-ended questions work best here, too. Some examples of direct but still polite questions include: What are you spending at the moment on this product or service? What is your part in the decision-making or budgeting process? How is this problem affecting business? How much of a priority is finding a solution? By moving through a series of questions similar to these, the most qualified leads will emerge.


    Trade show swag and promotional materials can be useful tools, but actively capturing lead information trumps passing out brochures and waiting for a call back. Using a CRM system on site via tablets or laptops can be an effective way to track the best leads and to jot down notes while they are still fresh in mind. An old fashioned notebook and pen also can work in a pinch. If the person has been engaged properly, a smooth transition into gathering the contact details should not present difficulty. Leave the fishbowl of business cards for window-shoppers, but keep your qualified leads close in hand.


    Thousands of attendees might pass through your booth at a large trade show, and with a small space and limited number of staff, ensuring no good leads get lost can prove a monumental task. In order to guarantee the strongest leads stay fresh, it’s vital to have trade show representatives use a clear ranking system. A simple set of criteria should be in place to discriminate between top tier leads and those that might require more nurturing or time before they can realize their full potential, and then those that are best left to the mailing list. Allow for breaks from the show floor so that newly collected leads can be reviewed and ranked.

    Trade Show Checklist: Training

    Before your next trade show, set aside some time for training any reps who will be working your booth, collecting leads. Develop a system that makes it easy for them to identify a quality lead and find ways to politely limit their time spent on unlikely leads. And whatever method you use for logging, make sure it is easy and accurate so you don’t end up with misspelled contact information.

    If you need any assistance in planning your trade show booth, please reach out to Structure’s team of experts at 1-888-633-4162.

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