Creating Lead Form/Questionnaires…That Work
There are three fundamental reasons most companies invest in trade show marketing:
People attend trade show exhibitions to learn about companies…their strategies, products, and services…and industry changes.
Studies show that over 75% of people attend trade shows to actually see what products look like and what features they offer…both yours and your competitor’s. Over 60% attend specifically to evaluate competitive products.
To Capture Leads
While most booth personnel enjoy talking about their company, they especially enjoy demonstrating the features and capabilities of their specific products. More often than not, capturing lead information is simply not a high priority. This is often a training issue (they have never been told the importance of capturing leads) but is usually a function of the lead capture process itself. Demo personnel do not want to interrupt their presentations to ask and record the answers to qualifying questions. And if there are several people watching the demonstration, it is often impossible to capture information about each person…one at a time.
The problem is even more difficult if the presentation is given in a theater environment. However, given the audience (studies indicate that as many as 50% of the attendees are final decision makers with purchasing authority) and the expense associated with exhibiting at a show, lead capture and qualification is generally not a priority to show personnel. Salespeople always complain that the leads they get from trade shows are not as good as those they receive from other sources. They are usually right! It is generally because there hasn’t been enough emphasis placed on lead capture. And, the process in place doesn’t support quality sales prospecting. Capturing good lead information must be made a show priority and as simple as possible for booth personnel. And, it must be both easy and non-intrusive to the “inform” and “demonstrate” objectives of the show.
What Questions to Ask
Lead capture questions can be categorized into four general classes:
Salespeople generally are interested in three basic prospect attributes: a. is there a funded project b. when will the purchasing decision be made c. is the person the final decision maker.
Which of your products and services are of interest to the prospect.
Business or Industry
Into which business category does the prospect’s company fall? How many employees are there, how many locations, annual revenue, etc.? If the company is involved with the government, are they Federal, State and Local, a special agency, etc.
A trade show can be used as a focus group to ask various marketing questions. For example, interest in potential new product features can be measured. However, it is vital to recognize that the primary purpose of lead capture at trade shows is qualifying leads and generating sales opportunities. Be certain to limit the use of marketing questions on questionnaires (see How Many Questions Can I Ask, below).
How to Ask Questions
Show attendees recognize that there is a trade off at shows. You tell them about your company, your products and services, and answer their questions. In return, they provide information about themselves and their companies. Generally, if they are unwilling to provide this information, they are not a real prospect for you. However, and this is an important point, they are free to ask as many questions as you permit but you can only expect a certain limited amount of their time answering the questionnaire. Of course, you can ask as much as you like while talking to the person, but the questionnaire must be reasonable in length.
People are asked to fill in a questionnaire at virtually every booth they visit, usually with very similar questions. Your ability to make filling in the form as easy as possible for the attendee increases the probability of getting a complete questionnaire with answers that are generally more accurate.
The trade show environment is different from other forms of selling. You have very limited time with each person. Ask only those questions required to determine if the person is a real prospect. The ideal questionnaire is a tool to decide whether to contact the person after the show ends. It is definitely not a tool to gather full sales information. That can be done in a telemarketing follow up or in a sales call.
Answers should be designed so attendees can easily select the appropriate answer for themselves and their companies. It is easier when the answers are multiplechoice rather than the fill-in-the-blank variety. Instead of asking for a discrete answer, it is much easier for the attendee to answer a question in the form of a range. For example, the purchasing timeframe may be “Less than 3 Months”, “3 to 6 Months”, “7 to 12 months”, and “Over 1 Year”. When constructing answers to questions, you need to ask yourself if there is a real difference between a purchase timeframe answer of “4 Months” or “3 to 6 Months” when the lead is placed in the hands of a salesperson. If a question is easy to answer, it is likely the question will be answered and the answer will be more accurate.
Keep the wording of questions brief and direct and, where possible, use correct English sentences. Differentiate questions and answers by printing the question in bold typeface. If you must use a fill-in-theblank question (although we discourage this approach), provide lines on the form to encourage neatness and to limit the length of the answer (some people are novelists).
How Many Questions Can I Ask?
As discussed above, you can reasonably expect a limited amount of time from attendees for answering questions on a questionnaire. Most attendees believe you are there for their convenience. Once they tire of answering questions, they will stop, period. You lose valuable information. We recommend placing questions on the questionnaire in the order of importance. What do you need to know vs. what would you like to know.
Only you can decide how many questions are required to qualify a prospect. However, we recommend limiting questions to a total of six to eight. Similarly, questions requiring only one selection should be limited to about five answers. There are of course exceptions, but it is rare that an attendee will make the effort to accurately differentiate among many more possible answers. The list of answers can reasonably be longer if multiple selections can be made, for example a list of products and services. But, generally fewer is better.
Layout of the Questionnaire
Make sure your company name (and logo) is at the top of the questionnaire. This form is marketing material and should support your branding strategy. You may want to put the name of the show on the questionnaire as well. Place any messaging next, especially if you have a promotional giveaway or are using a paper lead card as entry in a drawing. If there is a drawing, be sure to indicate any rules such as a requirement to be present. If the drawing is for something of great value, you may want to consult your legal department for guidelines. You may need to check with show management as well.
For paper lead forms, leave ample room for the person’s name, title, company, etc. Legibility will be affected by allowing too little room for this information. The SVCapture system from ShowValue prints a label so the attendee does not need to write this information. It is more accurate, speeds the process of filling in the questionnaire, encourages the attendee to answer the questions, and is always readable.
Place the most important questions first. If the attendee has limited time (or attention span), at least these questions have a higher probability of being answered. Leave enough space between question and between answers. A busy looking form can be intimidating and reduces the probability of the attendee answering all your questions.
If your booth personnel frequently rite comments on the questionnaire, display a “Comments” input area. On paper lead forms, provide a “Comments” section. If you don’t, people will write all over the form. The use of lines in the comment area will help keep the comments neater. The size of a paper lead form is a function of the number of questions and answers. It should generally be no larger than 8½” x 11″ and usually no smaller than 6″ x 9″. Paper can be white or colored. If you use colored paper, make sure the color is light enough so the printing is easy to read. Use a minimum of 24-pound stock. A 67-pound cover stock is easier to write on. Lighter stock may require you to supply a clipboard if the person is expected to fill in the lead form while standing.
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