After the trade show is over, how do I follow-up?

After the trade show is over, how do I follow-up?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

479After the trade show is over, how do I follow-up?


I was at the Book Expo in Chicago last week. Customers and prospects everywhere. A real selling bonanza. There were companies who were emailing quotes, confirmations and copies of orders directly from their exhibit booth to the office of the prospect or customer. That’s real fast.

As competition grows fiercer (and it will), speed becomes a lethal weapon. Better put – the lack of speed can be fatal in the selling process. How fast you respond to your trade show or business leads will be the measure of your success. If you’re not following up within 2 days – your competitor has beat you to the punch (and sale).

If you got 200 leads from a trade show (or ten leads from a networking event), here are some ideas on how to convert them into sales. Many of the methods and techniques listed here are things you could have (should have) done weeks before the event took place.

If you find yourself in the large group of people who didn’t make follow up plans BEFORE the show or event, make follow-up an integral part of pre-show planning the next time you exhibit. Not only will pre-planned follow-up increase your results, it will help you improve the way you generate leads on the trade show floor.

    If you have difficulty following up, the answers to these questions will tell you why.

  • Do you have a game plan that was finished before the trade show started?
  • Do you have blank business cards? Turn your business card “leads” over – if there’s nothing written on them, your ability to follow-up effectively is diminished.
  • Do you have a lead sheet or questionnaire that was filled out at the show?
  • Do you have a scripts or actions ready for your follow-up contact with prospects?
    Here’s how to succeed at trade show or business fair follow-up:

  • Define your follow up program before the show. – make sure the information you’re gathering matches the information needed for effective follow-up.
  • Meet immediately after the show and review every lead.
  • Organize leads by type of follow-up, and heat (interest level) of prospect.
  • Draft a nice short, creative, non-vomit follow-up letter.
  • Mail or call (email is also OK) every contact within 2 days.
  • Have separate contact sheets or data files for each prospect.
  • Have a scripted first contact that is creative, and ties back to the information given or gained from the show.
    Try these opening lines if you write a letter:

  • The Expo presented me an opportunity to meet you. I’d like to get to know you better…
  • We can help! (bold 24-point type) From the information you provided us in the questionnaire, we can…Write a letter that gets attention and creates response.
    Try these opening lines on the phone:

  • Jim, I had an idea about your business after we spoke, but couldn’t find you again at the Fair. What have you thought about… (or how is your company currently using…)
  • Bill, I couldn’t wait until the Carolina Business Fair was over to get back to you. I’ve been thinking about…
  • Mary, I went to your website and I got an idea about…
  • I wanted to get together with you a few minutes to show you some things about (————) that I didn’t get a chance to address at the Business Fair. I could do it in under 5 minutes. When is good for you?Create your own lines. Find one or two that work and use them on everyone.

Your entire objective is to get to the next step in your selling cycle. That MAY mean making the sale, but probably NOT. Most of the time it’s an appointment that you’re selling. Whatever it is, focus on completing that step only. Salespeople tend to overshoot the situation and sell too much, or send too much, too quickly. This makes the prospect nervous and defensive. You know my philosophy – send ONE potato chip and make them hungry for another.

Monitor and measure your results. Evaluate your weekly results for two months. This will help you determine the cost per sale and whether or not you will be going back to exhibit next year.

After the trade show is over, it’s a horse race to the sale. How well you train, how well you’re bred, who’s riding you, and your speed in the straightaway and the curves, will determine the winner of the race.

Here’s hoping you’re a thoroughbred.

Free GitBit…Want a dose Trade Show smarts? I would love to email you a page of trade show tips and strategies to help you qualify faster. Go to – register if you’re a first time user, and enter the words TRADE SHOW in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to