Following up on those trade show and conference leads

Does it seem like time has flown by this winter?

I know it has for me. Maybe it’s the strange weather — my friends living in the middle and right hand side of the country seem to be getting hit with yet another major snow storm, while Seattle has been enjoying a relatively mind and dry winter.

Follow up on those leads!

Audrey II and my 65 pound spaniel. Audrey is not a small plant.

In fact, it has been so mild that I don’t think I’ve worn a jacket outside in weeks and my prized Gunnera Manicata (aka Audrey II) is already starting to grow rapidly… about a month ahead of schedule.

Good old Audrey II. She is so popular, friends bring their loved ones to my house during the summer months to have group photos taken under her canopy. She is so popular, she might as well have her own Facebook page (friends pressure me into creating a new FB photo album documenting her growth every year). My husband and I like to attend the annual Northwest Flower and Garden Show in Seattle to find various experts who are “in the know” we can brag to about Audrey II. She is definitely one of a kind here in cold, temperate Seattle. But even Audrey is confused by the weather and is having time-space issues.

It seems that all of the vendors we met at the Flower and Garden Show over three weeks ago are having time-space issues as well. This is the year that we hope to whip the rest of the yard into shape, and between the two of us, we probably handed out our numbers or email addresses to 20 vendors — tree experts to come look at the ancient cedar tree and sickly pear tree, the top soil company that we specifically told we will purchase 8 yards of dirt from this spring, and so on. No one has called us. No one has emailed us. I do not think I have even been added to any generic email lists — ordinarily something that annoys me (yes, even though I, too, deal with email marketing professionally).

We were hot leads, and we have now gone cold.

I’m dead serious. If one of them were to call me now, the sales/marketing professional me would be agitated. You let me go cold! The “normal person” me would probably have to really wrack my brain to even remember what we discussed at the show and why I gave you my contact information. Who are you again?

Is a month too short of a period of time to be this harsh? In some cases, yes, a month is a bit harsh to be this critical. However, if your area of sales or nonprofit work is seasonal, topical, or is a crowded field (for example, there are 25 other tree services operating in your area, and they can all be easily found on Yelp or Angie’s List), you need to move fast to follow up on that initial touch. Thank me for stopping by. Send me the link to your website. Send me a coupon. Offer to come look at my cedar tree. Whatever! Just make that next touch as soon as you can. Forget the giant lead list you received from the conference organizer for a few days and focus on following up with the people who actually stopped by your table and engaged with you. That massive Excel spreadsheet is not nearly as hot as the person who listened to your spiel for five minutes.

Think of it this way: anyone who hands you contact information is inviting you to follow up. They are hungry for more interaction and engagement. They are hungry and will eat it up.

“Feed me, Seymour! Feed me all night long. Because if you feed me, Seymour, I can grow up big and strong.”

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