How to qualify customers at the trade show booth

Qualifying customers is one of the single most important thing you can do.

70% of leads are not followed up.

After a recent study of how leads are recorded it appears as tho leads are not in fact generated in the first place.

Let me define a lead:

  • A Lead is Information about the customer that takes you from 1 phase of the sales process to the next.
  • Each product/service has a different amount of phases in order to make a sale

So with the above definition of lead generation why are leads not followed up?

The main reason is that people are not finding out customers needs in order to effectively follow-up

  • Business card promotions Simply a competition to win a bottle of wine or XYZ Gift.
    The Problem is that you have contact details but nothing about customers needs
  • Electronic scanning machines. 90% of the time these are used incorrectly and as a result peole simple scan name  badges which is exactly the same as collecting a business card- it is contact details only. Electronic scanning machines are capable of taking in more information about the customers’ needs but rarely if ever are used in such a way (To learn how to use the electronic scanners I have created a video here)
  • No information is received and people hand out brochures only. This is one of the worst examples of trade show exhibiting. I see large and small companies do it and it really serves no purpose. Simply- you’re not even getting their contact details – this strategy (or lack of) is normally due to not preparing and not knowing objectives.

The Lead generating System

First thing first- you must understand exactly who is your customer from a Job title, gender, age etc

It is a simple system to follow: Let’s set the scene,

A person walks into the stand, the sales rep has no idea about the needs of the potential customer and no background info.
The customer asks what do you do?

  • Before you (the sales rep) start talking and spending time with this person you need to qualify them first as to not waste your time
  • After you introduce yourself and give an extreme nutshell over view of your business You qualify them by simply asking them their job title (seeing if they fit the right age and gender qualifications) Are they looking for the XYZ solution or in the market for a new ABC or something that will give you the information- Are they a potential customer or not.

If they say “No” you have not wasted time (or theirs) and you can point them in the right direction of who can help them

If they say “Yes” then you are closer to taking a lead- a good idea is to ask the customer to clarify their needs- this allows you to find out more about if they are in fact a potential customer but also allows you to really target your sales pitch to their individual needs and not waste time talking about things the customer is not interested in.

Recording the leads

Using your electronic scanner or a simple paper and pen lead generation approach you ask them questions about their own needs and you write it down (or press the appropriate button on the scanner). whilst I cannot know your product/service at the time of writing this article- I can include several questions that should be asked which include:

  1. Are you the decision maker   (Yes, no, committee)
  2. If not who is (never hurts to ask, many times the visitor at the trade show is there on behalf of a boss)
  3. Buying time frame- when are they thinking of purchasing
  4. when would they like to be contacted for the next phase in the sales process (quote, book a test drive person meeting etc)

These 4 simple question will help you in your lead generation, along with your own product/specific questions you can flesh out their needs and record it on the paper or electronic method.


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