What’s Up with Lead Management?

badgeLead Management is a broad term to describe the collection of leads at trade shows or exhibitions and what you do with those leads after they have been acquired.

So, what’s the difference between lead retrieval and lead management, and why is this important to today’s technology savvy meeting organizers?

In brief:

  • Lead retrieval simply refers to the collection of leads.
  • Lead management refers to collection of leads and how you process and organize that data to maximize your follow up sales processes.

Lead management includes:

  • Lead Collection
  • Lead Profiling
  • Lead Follow Up

According to a research study sponsored by Lynch Exhibits Inc., 98 percent of all exhibitors at shows collect leads in some fashion. The same study found that less than 70 percent had any formalized plan for lead follow up and only 47 percent tracked leads through the resulting sales cycles. More notable, the same survey showed that only 28 percent measured the success of their lead retrieval efforts.

Lead retrieval tools and services have been around for many years, and for many of those years, the processes and technology have remained pretty much the same.

Before computers, we had the good old fishbowl method. Collect business cards, give away swag and hopefully the sales team followed up appropriately.

As meeting technology became computerized, so did lead management. This was the era of dedicated scanners and other lead collection technology. We became used to paying hundreds of dollars per show to scan bar codes on badges and get a printout, or later, a flash drive or link to download with your lead details after the show. Data quality was hit or miss, since it depended on how the data was collected, as well as what data was collected.

As the Internet, and later, the Cloud became our new reality, dramatic inroads were made in lead management using this technology. Coupled with mobile apps, meeting organizers and exhibitors were able to collect leads with their own personal smart devices and save lots of money on equipment rental.

Lead management companies and event management platforms are also evolving. With real-time connectivity via the cloud, exhibitors, for the first time, had real-time access to not only basic lead details, but deeper profiles and marketing data.

Two significant trends are emerging in the world of lead management:

  • Lead profiling where technology is used to pinpoint specific product interest and easily obtain additional details useful to the lead follow up process
  • Lead response, where prospects receive instant thank you communications and leads are easily exported and more fully integrated in CRM tools to better track and analyze contact, close and sales percentages

Exhibitors are experiencing the empowerment of being able to collect leads with their smart devices, ask pertinent profile questions, and appreciate that the prospect receives a follow up email immediately and automatically after they depart from the stand or booth.

Entire teams, whether they are at the show or not are able to view lead collection in real time, instantly export details and track where the leads are coming from (geographically).

It is getting easier than ever to integrate to external CRM systems. Once properly connected, most CRMs can easily take that initial lead data and process it through its lead management procedure. This way, you can report and track lead effectiveness, all the way through to closed sale or disqualification, on a show by show basis.

Planners are also experiencing the benefit of not paying for lead retrieval services, as a small number of companies are integrating these services in their registration platforms at no additional cost. One popular event management platform, EventsAIR by Centium Software has started including a comprehensive Lead Management technology at no additional cost. Coupled with their native Attendee App (also included at no additional cost), exhibitors can use their phones or tablets, create custom profile questions and capture leads while sharing them with their teams both at the show and at the home office.

The benefits of an integrated Lead Management solution are strong – sharing a central and single database ensures near perfect accuracy at all stages of the lead collection process. Not paying for the technology is another fantastic benefit as well!

These benefits can be passed along to the exhibitor, who also deeply appreciate lower costs and near-instant access to both basic lead details along with expanded answers to specific profile questions.  Alternatively, organizers may prefer to charge for advanced features as another revenue stream.

Like most technology driven industries, the Cloud and the web has been part and parcel with the latest trends in Lead Management. Whether you go with an external third party tool or service, or use the Lead Management tools built into your registration platform, the end result is the same – better understanding of who your leads are, and what is done with them after the show is over.

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