Fishing for Qualified Leads: Which Strategies Yield the Biggest Catch

Post authored by Victor Kippes.

What do you fish with at tradeshows: a pole or a net?

I often speak with exhibitors and event marketers who deploy one of these two lead capture strategies. Let’s review:

“Fishing Pole” strategy – I only scan leads that have expressed legitimate interest in our products and services. If they want a trinket, or have no authority, I don’t waste my time or my sales team’s time by scanning. When I bring home leads they are already qualified because I only scan the good ones. Counts are low but that is what we want. High quality, low quantity.

“Fishing Net” strategy – I know there are 8,000 people at this show, I want 8,000 leads. I bought 8,000 squishy balls and want everyone here to have one. All they have to do is let us scan them. High quantity, variable quality.

Which strategy is better? The answer depends upon your lead management foundation.

When you should use the pole versus net

I recall vividly my old company running a contest at a show in Denver with our marketing team. The contest was simple. The marketing rep that captured the most leads won a week’s vacation to Presidents Club. The winning marketing rep had 350 leads (three of which were me). He actually scanned my badge three times which was included in his count. The event total was over 1,600 leads which was a 120% increase of the previous year with the same sized booth. Overall, this event was a huge success, declared by our VP of Marketing. Post event, these leads were broken up by postal code and distributed to my Direct Sales team for follow- up. As VP of Sales at the time, this was a big problem for me and my team in that the activity that Marketing had generated through this strategy was very frustrating. Try calling someone eight (8) times only to find out they wanted a squishy ball or chance to win something! This was also the beginning of a contentious relationship between Sales and Marketing. If you need help in understanding sales and marketing strategies more, you can check out about using MQLs and SQLs effectively in your business.

The amount of money companies waste chasing bad leads is simply amazing. Capturing leads in this manner without an incubation engine can dramatically impact your sales team’s productivity in a negative way. What is a lead incubation engine? A lead incubation engine is an orchestrated way to nurture leads who are not yet ready to buy. The art of successful lead nurturing is in connecting the lead audience to valuable content that keeps them engaged with your organization, brand, and solutions. If done well, successful nurturing can build a strong brand and solution preference long before a prospect is actively engaged in a buying process.

If your lead management foundation is your sales team, then be smart with regards to the activity you hand over to them. Don’t use the net if there’s no way to prepare all the fish.

When you should use the net versus the pole

If your lead management foundation has a good lead incubation strategy and supporting processes then this strategy is quite effective. Tradeshows provide the world best opportunity to capture contacts and leads within a specific industry segment and having this data can be tremendously valuable. Not everyone you meet at a show has buying authority or interest in your products, but they have access and can influence those that do. Garnering permission to market to them and then following up with content and messaging that treats them appropriately, encourages referrals, and asks where they are in the buying cycle, what their challenges are, etc. can be a very effective way to generate demand. I have seen some of the smartest marketing companies in the world effectively deploy a fishing net strategy. All of them had a well thought-out lead incubation strategy and solution in place though. If you do not have the resources, strategy, and process surrounding leading incubation, you should avoid using the net.

What works for you? Let me know the strategy you use to capture leads at tradeshows. Every sales team has a great story. I’d love to hear yours.

Victor Kippes is CEO of Validar. To learn more about him, click here.

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