As a marketer or business owner, thinking about lead capture at events can feel overwhelming. How best to capture leads at your events, whilst keeping attendees happy at the same time?
Your event of course may fall into any one of a number of buckets. You could have a stand at a business to business exhibition, you could be sponsoring a table at an awards ceremony, you could be putting on your first business product launch, which could be happening virtually or in-person. The principles below should apply to all these scenarios.
In this article we’ll show you how to get people excited about your company’s events (before), connect with them usefully at the event (during) and how to follow up with them post event (after), so that your event lead capture process generates quality leads, and in turn prospective clients.
Before: Take Part in Pre-Event Planning
Every good lead capture strategy starts with planning. When it comes to event lead capture, either you or your event organiser are going to have a wealth of information that you can use. Focused time spent generating ideas on how to capture leads and turn those into prospective customers is rarely time wasted.
Before you get started capturing leads, first consider the answers to the following questions:
- How big is the event? Is it virtual, in-person, or hybrid? If it’s online, what’s the platform (e.g. Zoom). Are there lead capture apps you could integrate into the event if needed?
- Is it just your company at the event, or are there competitors? If there are, how will you score leads and stand out from the rest? Context is everything, and it’s everything all of the time – consider why guests or delegates would want to talk to you, and incorporate this into your plan. Bring business cards (they are still used!) and talk to your sales and marketing departments to make sure you’re highlighting specific details about your company that matter to your audience.
- What type of audience is it? What specific aspects of your offering align with their needs? What kind of conversation would they need to have with your company?
- Who’s already in your CRM (customer relationship management software) or CMS (customer management system)? Where relevant, it’s always best to check your existing systems to find out if there are previously lost leads attending your event, or already warm leads that might just need a little extra encouragement to convert to customers. An event invite might just be the final push they need.
- Is there a big release or new feature that you can integrate with the event? Could you run publicity beforehand to intrigue potential leads?
- If it’s not yourself do you know which member or members of your team will be working closely with key attendees?
- Could you spread the word publicly via email marketing, social networking and other channels to busy up your event lead capture process by engaging wider audiences?
You can also leverage previous event intelligence, such as data-driven insights collected in a lead capture app from previous events like trade shows, or you can use previous event debriefs. Both can help to give unique insight into how interested leads behaved at previous events, and how successful these events were.
Corporate events have substantial benefits for businesses.
During: Leverage the art of conversation and technology
When it comes to turning corporate events into lead capture opportunities, you may want to consider two elements.
They are the BANT method, and lead capture apps. We delve into both below.
1: The BANT Method
The BANT method was first created by IBM in the 1950s. BANT is a sales qualification procedure that aids salespeople in identifying qualified leads.
The BANT approach is simple to remember, so you can quickly hit on the most important ideas. However, as you’ll see below, the questions are often direct (BANT was invented to save time) so you won’t want to come across as pushy or hurried at an event.
To avoid coming across pushy or hurried, work with your sales team on each section of the BANT method. Consider how visitor demographics like age, authority, culture and industry might affect how a question is interpreted or answered.
BANT stands for:
Budget is a tentative topic, but it’s an important one to qualify leads. You need to know whether or not a lead can afford your product or offering. If they don’t have the money set aside for one, you might have a better suited product or service to offer them. Alternatively you could still capture the lead by working something out, like giving them a free 14-day trial, or whatever else works within the context of your product or service.
Ask questions that reveal the figure the person would be happy to go to, or probe a ballpark figure by floating budget options, such as from £X amount a month.
Questions to ask include:
- How much would you spend on similar products/services?
- Who is in charge of financial decisions?
- How much money is budgeted for this solution?
Is the individual you’re talking to authorised to make a decision? If not, how many degrees of separation are they? The person who is at the event has a reason for being there, but they may be there in someone else’s place, on someone else’s behalf, or with better knowledge in your sector than the decision-maker.
Questions like “Would you be making the purchase?” or “Pardon my asking, but who in your company usually makes the decision to invest like this?” should provide you with necessary insight into the decision making process.
Questions to ask include:
- What is your decision-making process?
- How can I help you meet your expectations?
- Who on your team would be using this solution? What are their values? Obstacles?
Learn about their degree of need and then prioritise that over their level of interest – because interest is more fluid than necessity. It’ll be a tough go if they don’t require your product or service in the first place.
When it’s time to start a conversation, make a mental note to ask them, “What sort of solution are you looking for?” and “What problems are you attempting to solve?” This should give you the opportunity to either supply information about your benefits or politely suggest that this isn’t a good fit.
The important one. Do they have their hand on the company’s credit card or are they merely getting a feel for what’s available? Do they have an immediate problem that you can assist them with?
If applicable, find out how soon your prospect is looking for a solution, or if they are on strict timelines, show them you can deliver within these timeframes (but only if you can).
Questions to ask can include:
- What does your current process look like?
- Where do you run into hurdles?
- What problems are you trying to solve by looking at solutions like ours? How often do you run into those problems? How much do they bother you on a scale from 1 to 10?
Strategy 2: Lead Capture Apps
Though they may not be relevant for all clients or events, lead capture software is trending. Whether lead capture is an app integrated into your existing CRM, or a part of your CRM package, lead capture apps can provide a host of benefits, including more accurate and thorough data capture, increased efficiency, quicker collaboration between teams, and in some cases even pre-qualification of prospects.
Always check to ensure the lead capture tools you plan on using are compatible with the environment your event is taking place in (e.g. in an in-person, virtual or hybrid set up).
For in-person events alongside a lead capture app, you may need a business card scanning app or perhaps a badge reader that is able to scan attendee badges as well (these can often be supplied by organisers at business to business exhibitions). Both of these pieces of software work by collecting business cards, scanning and sending it to your CRM or CMS, and then delegating it as a Lead or Contact for immediate follow up.
Finally, make time for Event Lead Capture
You can’t capture leads at events if there’s no time to do so. Ensure that no matter which type of event you’re running, your leads have ample opportunity to talk to people of interest and to find out more details about your company and its offerings.
Good business events should be set up so that there are multiple opportunities for you and your team to engage with prospects, make sure you take advantage of these opportunities.
Once you’ve captured your lead, you need to build a relationship.
After: Follow up!
The number of leads collected via your CRM or CMS shows becomes absolutely meaningless if you do not follow up after the event, and you’d be surprised how many companies fall short here.
These figures put the effort of event lead capture to waste. Poor follow up can be down to a lack of coordination, a lack of resources, or something as fundamental as a lack of understanding (ie what to do in the follow up).
Make it imperative to outline follow up steps and allocate tasks to your team properly.
Follow up promptly
If you have a lot of leads or haven’t scored them yet against warm, hot, or cold criteria (from information gleaned live in the event, or before this), it’s probable you are making life harder for yourself (and you are certainly making life harder for yourself if you are involved in big ticket, business to business sales).
It’s critical to follow up professionally, but not at the expense of losing your personal touch. Make the messages personal by referring to your notes. A prompt follow up shows efficiency, proactivity, and a desire to do business, 3 elements that will never hurt.
Where relevant share lead details with other team members
If multiple employees within your company are involved, or need to be involved in the lead process (if they need to see the history of a lead for instance) make sure your systems are set up so they have ready access to the relevant information. Alerts and workflows can be set up in CRM and CMS systems where needed to make sure your processes are consistent.
Leverage unmatched leads
It’s possible that a lead isn’t a good match for your product, area of expertise, etc., but it doesn’t mean they’re not a potential lead for someone else in your company or network. Consider who else, first in your business and then outside of competition and in your professional network, may benefit from an unmatched lead. When done properly, such connections can help your unmatched lead and you.
Lead capture at events is an important part of lead nurturing and lead management. It needs to be done right, and it needs due thought – if you fail to plan, then plan to fail.
Break down the process for your company for every event into a before, during and after approach, and stay disciplined within this approach. Above all, remember to value your leads and follow up promptly and professionally.