In Part One, we discussed the accessibility of market data at trade shows–and how valuable it is. So now what? How do you deliver and integrate data collected at trade shows with the data already existing in the CRM system? What are some of the tools available for you to demonstrate the significant impact trade shows can make to the bottom line?
Collecting and Measuring Trade Show Data
Option one: On a very basic level, you can program the show-sponsored lead collection mechanism with questions that correspond to the order of data entry your company uses in its CRM system. Ask the CRM manager for a template of the records currently in the database so you can capture information that is compatible and, hopefully, in the same sequence. Determine what match points will work with your internal system. That way, when you bring the data back to the office, it can be easily entered in the database. For example, will you use last names, since people are inconsistent with the use of their first names? Will you use a zip code? Email address? Work this out in advance with IT or whoever manages the database. You might find that simply providing an Excel CSV spreadsheet at the end of the show will work fine with your system.
Option two: Another way to collect transportable data is to invest in a proprietary lead capture system. The problem with show-sponsored systems is that they are incompatible with one another, making the first option ponderous if your show schedule is aggressive. Working with a partner specializing in lead capture allows you to set up the parameters for consistent data collection from show to show. Generally, your partner will interface with your IT department, entrusting this piece of your program to people who understand the process at a fundamental level. Although a proprietary system adds to your budget, it also gives your company access to the most critical outcome of trade shows–data–and all things considered, the investment is small when weighed against the potential for boosting revenue. Outsourcing the function also emphasizes the importance of data collection at trade shows, answering the “But what do we get out of trade shows?” question. The cost of these systems appears to be coming down. The field is becoming increasingly crowded as more companies realize the importance of collecting and appending trade show data.
Option three: Another data integration method, especially if you have a sophisticated CRM system, is to work with IT to develop a tool for transporting existing data to the trade show. This solution allows you to append information as you gather it onto a template that can easily go back into the CRM system.
Whatever solution you decide to pursue, remember the data you collect at trade shows could very easily be the most valuable data your company possesses. Repeated studies from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) prove it costs much less to close a lead from a trade show than to close one developed in the field. Here are the numbers–use them to make your case:
The cost of an initial face-to-face meeting with a prospect is $96 for an exhibition lead; whereas, without an exhibition lead, that figure is $1,039—a savings of $943 per prospect. The survey shows 54 percent of sales initiated from an exhibition lead require three or fewer sales calls to close, while 61 percent of sales initiating from sources other than an exhibition require more than three sales calls to close.
According to CEIR research, it costs $2,188 to close a sale with an exhibition lead but $3,102 to close a sale without an exhibition lead.
There is research backing up the fact that trade shows provide a unique value to the bottom line–and that is a legitimate defense for your program.
The data from your trade show is directly proportional to the success of the customer experience. To get an overview of the interrelatedness of everything that provides an optimal, download How to Write a Marketing Plan.