Let’s say you’ve ordered all the show services. You order electrical, drayage, cleaning and, of course, the official lead retrieval system. You get all the instructions about how to use it, turn it off each night, and know to return it at the close of the show to get the leads downloaded to a memory stick or emailed to a designated company representative.
You’ll never hear me say don’t do a lead retrieval even though many companies decide that it’s a crutch and leads to no significant leads (no pun intended). What a lead retrieval does is provide a way to get much of the registration documentation on an attendee, which may include their name, address, phone number, title, and much more. If you are creating a mailing list and are just looking for attendee information, then the lead retrieval is a great resource. Realize that you can also purchase the advanced attendee list from the show association or organizer, especially if you want to do a pre-show mailer. Some shows provide it as a normal part of your exhibitor status.
I would strongly suggest using the lead retrieval as a secondary tool. The primary tool should be a questionnaire or any strong note taking device. I understand that this is a technique that some may find taboo, but think about it ─ you scan a badge or get a business card and do that dozens and dozens of times each show day. It’s rare to see exhibitors use the notes feature of a lead retrieval machine. I recommended having a clipboard with you, ask the attendee if it is ok to take notes during your conversation, and have a series of questions to ask. You will be surprised at how much easier it is to have attendees answer a well thought out questionnaire (for you and the attendee) than to interact in a general conversation. It is also a great way to qualify attendees.
Being an exhibitor myself I am guilty of scanning a bunch of names and collecting business cards, and at the end of the day I might as well shuffle the cards having no memory of who was who, much less recall a specific conversation or details of those conversations. When specific notes are taken during an attendee conversation, your follow-up chances are significantly improved and you can personalize the conversation and bring up specific customer needs. Now add information from last week’s blog about incentivizing the attendee and you have a winning combination, instead of just a lead retrieval black hole.