Cindy: Hi, I’m Cindy Zuelsdorf with NAB show exhibitors Webinar and with Kokoro marketing. And today I’m here with Suzana Brady from Cobalt Digital. And we are going to look at the best way to follow up on your trade show leads. So now that it’s after the show, we’re looking at trade show follow-up for your warm and hot leads. So welcome everybody. And Suzana, how are you doing today? Thank you for joining us.
Suzana: I’m good. Good morning. Thank you for having us.
Cindy: Yeah, I’m so glad you’re here.
Suzana is the vice president of sales in North and South America at Cobalt Digital. And she and I were talking about how to follow up on trade show leads. And Suzana, let’s get right into it. One of the things you told me is that you’re hyper-organized with your lead follow-up. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Suzana: Sure. Well, I’ve worked in very, very large companies, very marketing-oriented large companies, where we took all the shows very seriously, and all the efforts, and all the leads generated, as well as tiny, tiny, tiny companies where every lead is even more precious than it seemed like. So always been very organized with follow-up with leads. We all put a lot of resources and time into trade show preparation, and so I think that every single lead that comes by… all the efforts in order to get those customers into our booth. So the most important thing we could do after having a great show is really making sure we value every single one of those visitors.
Cindy: That makes total sense. We’ve got this huge investment at the show. And you told me a statistic yesterday, something like a percentage of leads that don’t get followed up on or something like that. Can you share that with us?
Statistics On Sales Lead Follow-Up
Suzana: I’ve actually read this a couple of times, the same data that over 80% of leads that visit a trade show booth did not get followed up on, are neglected, also over 80% of the leads. And also, I read that I’m less than 70% of exhibitors really have a formal plan to follow up on leads. So that’s a little bit disrupting after all the work that goes on, if you really don’t have a plan or don’t plan on taking care of those guys.
Cindy: And that’s okay. If you’re on the call today and you don’t have a plan, that is why we’re doing this call because when you leave the call today, you’ll have a plan on how to get started. So if you feel like it, chat into the chat box and let us know if you have a plan or not. And if you feel like being private about it, you can select who the message goes to and it can just go to me or just Suzana if you don’t want to share with the group. Just wondering how your plans are going. Now Suzana, you talked about segmenting leads and how that ties into your hyper-organization.
Segmenting Your Sales Leads
Suzana: Well we just… there’s no science. It’s just really simple. The day we come back from the show, we get the whole list of attendees and we segment throughout… First, we do regionally. We divide it up around the world and we send the various list of the various sales managers. Then in each region we extract marketing contacts and technology content contacts. We usually have a lot of technology partners that come over. So we take those out. A lot of those are followed up by our engineers and some of our more technical group and the marketing leads get sent on the marketing group. And then we just keep them sales leads, which are the end users and their channel partners come to see us from the show.
So once we have the sales leads for the sales managers, then we divide in between really basic hot or, I mean, cold leads. The hot leads usually are a result of very intense conversations throughout the show. People who need something immediately, people who came over, people who have a budget or people who need a quotation right away, or a demo unit, or who just found out we have this technology and they’re at the end of their project cycle. So we’ll go and tackle those first. Usually by the weekend after NAB, those are taken care of, most customers actually ask if we can get back to them throughout the show. So we’re prompt to make sure we take care of those.
Then we have what we call medium warm leads, which are the next step down. And those are people that have a lot of good engaging conversations with us, but they would like to see some technical documentation, like papers or the one lone equipment delivered in the next couple of weeks or some budgetary pricing. So there’s a lot of call for action as a result of several meetings and we consider those medium warm leads and we follow up immediately the week after the show with phone calls just to tie up the conversation and any written custom documentation or email that’s required.
Cindy: Got it. So you’re segmenting in a couple of different ways then. You’re segmenting by region and then by how hot the lead is, is that right?
Suzana: We do. And we’ll also by vertical, sort of. So we take the technology leads out, we take the marketing context and leads out, which are all very important. Those are press people, magazine publishers. And we love those leads as well as the other ones, but we do divide them up different within the company. But within the sales leads, yes, we go regionally first and then we go by how urgent the lead is and how quickly those folks need to follow up. And then when we get to the mainstream, the remaining of the leads, we really try to be throughout the whole process, professional, prompt, and personal. I call it the PPP. We want to make sure we come up with a thank you email that’s going to go out to all the attendees that has some photos of the event. It has some faces of the whole team who was at the show. So the folks that came and visited us can remember who they spoke with. We had titles, contact information.
We’re usually very busy at these events. We have channel partner training sessions. We have a cocktail party for our top customers and partners throughout the show. We do several presentations on several different forums. And this year we also got an Emmy Award for a really nice piece of technology that we’re featuring. So between all that we just want to make sure we share a little bit of everything with the customers and we add photos and a little bit of news about everything. And we get that email out usually a week to 10 days after the show. Just as a reminder that we, number one, appreciate them taking the time to see us and number two, refreshing their memory of who we are and what we offer, so we can continue engaging the weeks to follow.
Cindy: That’s so smart. I love the segmentation process, the by region, the by temperature, and then the by vertical or sort of like you said, if it’s an end user, or channel partner, or press. One thing you told me the other day is that you first will take out all the leads that the sales team aren’t going to follow up on. And by no means are those not important, they’re just different from what the sales team are following up on. So you take those out right away. Just give us a shout into the chat box. Do you guys do segmenting of your leads during or after the show? Just wondering who else does that type of segmentation. So Suzana, did you have more to talk about on that? I didn’t mean to jump into your train of thought there.
Suzana: No, not at all. I was just going to say that one thing that we need to keep in mind that I try to keep in mind is that leads do not necessarily convert into sales in the short term, most actually take several months or over a year obviously according to budget cycles, project approvals, and all the other aspects that we’re familiar with. So it is important to not forget that we need to keep nurturing the leads. So we try to incorporate the leads into our CRM system, so we keep ongoing communication with those people.
Suzana: Now there are new people joining in, there’s new family members, part of the cohort family. So we try to incorporate them into our existing group of customers and we will continue to get in touch with them via monthly emails, newsletters, specific phone calls. If we’re in any areas of that region doing other regional shows or customer visits, we’ll segment by regional. We’ll contact them, try to come and see them again. So there’s a number of things that we do throughout the year to make sure we keep nurturing and keep providing valuable content to this audience so they don’t forget about us and they keep learning what’s the latest that we have.
Cindy: That’s so good. And you started talking about your systems, and I’m glad you brought that up because that was a second topic that I know people had asked a lot about, is what systems are used to follow up and are the most effective? And so you talked about a CRM system. Can you tell us about that and about any other systems that you use? And I remember you use this system with a notebook which I loved as well.
Suzana: Well, we do a couple of different things. One thing that I highly recommend that people use, people should try to use a digital way of capturing leads, scanning leads. That’s very helpful. So we bring the digitally capture leads directly into our CRM system and we could do several things like that. We can segment, regionalize, mark them as leads from NAB 2019. So we know exactly in our system all the leads that we acquired through the very shows included the various NAB shows. Another good thing about having them digitally is that we can import them to the marketing tool that we use. So they’re ready for mailers in various ways that, again, the segment is moving forward. So it’s very helpful to have them digitally captured and to immediately incorporate them into your CRM if you have one or your marketing tool.
And if you don’t have one, most likely you were on the smaller side and that’s fine too. I realize by being small and big companies that you capture a number of leads according to the size of the company. So I worked for 20,000 people company and we had the $500,000 booth and we captured thousands of leads that week because we had a hundred people on the show floor. So that will alone generate a lot more conversations and discussions and leads. But I worked with very small companies where we had 50, 80 leads a day. They were phenomenal and as qualified, and it was just what we wanted for that small company. So either way, just make sure you keep organized and you find what works best for you as far as following up with everyone.
Cindy: Can I ask about your notebooks? You talked just briefly about your NAB notebooks the other day and I loved that.
Suzana: Well, we all have our little notebook for the show as well as we all tend to follow up as we enter the leads digitally on the scanner. Everyone in our booth is extremely helpful and experienced in adding notes. So I would see several people that fall into a category that’s mine, for example, Latin America or certain countries that I’m the one handling the follow-up. And if I’m like, “Well, I don’t recall this group of people at all.” And then I’ll go to the notes. And sure enough, somebody entered the notes for us.
So we have very qualified and experienced show-goers on our show floor. Our group has been attending the NAB show for a long time, and if they’re not in sales, they’re really good about adding good notes for the sales people and also all our sales people carry notebooks throughout the show. And we find that those notes are really right on because at the end of each day you probably realize that everything becomes a little bit of a blur after you’ve talked to 100 or 200 people in a day. So it’s really helpful to have those notes at the end of the day.
Cindy: One of the things you’d said is that you meet with the team, and so if you meet someone in the hall, for example, and they talk about they have a project coming up or a need, you might quickly email one of the salespeople to let that person know and then you meet with the team afterwards to kind of share those informal conversations where important exchanges happen at the show. And I want to touch on that because that can be important the day of the show, a couple of weeks after, even a couple months after the show. And even if you’re the only salesperson that your company, probably there are at least two of you in the booth at the show. And so this kind of communication is so helpful. Tell us how you do that, Suzana.
Suzana: That’s right. Well we get to the booth every day and we try to get at least an hour before the show starts and we do 10-minute follow-up. So we go around and everybody shares some highlights from the day before and we share any major urgent quotation, or large opportunities, or strategic in some way or that involves some product that’s not completed quite yet, but we heard there’s a big need, so we want to tell engineering to reprioritize things a little bit. Something that we didn’t think was as important a month or two down the road. We’re okay with being in the fall, then all of a sudden because a couple of large opportunities, we want to shift that around.
So we do our quick team meeting in the booth before the show starts just to go over any highlights. And so when there’s urgent quotations and follow-up needed… and sometimes the customer came for discussion and they say the next day they’re going to come back again and bring more people, so we all in the booth want to be aware of that. That certain people coming at certain times, that a couple of the people need to be available for that meeting. So all of us really touch base about the previous day and what we know for that current day, which is really helpful.
Cindy: Yeah. And knowing that, if you have two possible deals coming up, one is for 5,000 or 50,000 and you have two that are equal amounts. If you know that somebody came to the booth three and four times and brought people with them, as a salesperson, obviously you can put some urgency toward the one where they had more visits. And so it’s another way to kind of check which things to follow up on first. Right? That’s important info, “Hey, that guy was in the booth again.” Right? And he brought his dot dot and dot.
Suzana: Yes, we get a lot of that, especially channel partners that keep bringing different customers throughout the whole show, which is really helpful. Yes.
Cindy: I’m glad you talked about channel partners. We did have them on before this Webinar. Ask about channel partners and how to select them. Can you touch on the role the channel partners play in your company and how do you do leads? So people feel like, “I’m going to keep all the leads and only give a couple of the partners. I’m going to keep the good ones for myself.” And just different approaches I know are out there. How do you guys do that?
Suzana: Well, I’ve personally been a channel person all throughout my career, so every company I worked for I was a champion for channel partners. So I keep that going. I find that the biggest payoff we can have because you just basically have extended sales force working for you in many ways. So we have a phenomenal group of dedicated channel partners. And like I said, they come to the booth throughout the entire show, bring in several customers. We keep those notes that those customers came with those channel partners just to make sure when we follow up, we follow up and copy the channel partner on the follow-up, make sure we keep the channel partner in the loop. We very rarely plan to go direct with any account. We prefer to work through our partners.
Suzana: How we select them, it varies around the world. But we try to have top one or two partners per country. Cobalt has dozens of products that go overlapping and non overlapping parts of the industry. So we do find partners that will focus on some verticals in their countries that would feature some of our products, but some other partners might focus on other verticals that feature some other products. So we try as much as we can to find qualified partners that are exactly in our space and that don’t overlap just so instead of creating problems, we actually have them compliment each other’s work and establishing the brand and all that. So there is a lot of different aspects of qualifying and choosing the right partner, but we do try to make sure we have complimentary partners versus competing partners for the most part.
Cindy: One of the folks I talked with last week is asking how to choose a channel partner. And one of the things that I found that works really well is if you have a contact in that region, let’s say it’s in Korea, or in Germany, or wherever you’re trying to expand your market into and utilize. If you can find a prospect or a customer you can connect with there and maybe ask them, “Who do you recommend?” You have one or two dealers or reps, there are systems integrators that you work with that you can recommend and that is a great way to kind of start the ball rolling when you’re trying to figure out who’s a good fit for a channel partner.
Suzana: Absolutely. And for example, trade shows are like the best, the most effected in-person form to generate leads in a business to business arena. And so just on this trade show now on this last NAB we met four new significant partners for Latin America that we haven’t spoken with before. They’re exactly in our space and would be a great fit, it seems like it. So you do need a lot of new leads as far as general partners. Those guys do the research. They obviously have thousands of exhibitors to visit if they chose to visit you. They did some homework beforehand. They see that there is a feed, they see that you compliment the other product lines they represent, they’re ready to promote your brand. And so we pay a lot of attention of those guys that keep seeking for us and we’re sure evaluating… doing an evaluation. The evaluation takes several weeks after the show. So we’re shown in ongoing discussions with a number of partners that showed up at at the show and approached us. But as well, we’re always looking for a way to work with channel partners.
Cindy: Suzana, you talked about ongoing touches throughout the year and how you do that. And how important are those ongoing touches to that long sales cycle? And tell us again a little bit about your newsletter because I liked what you were talking about around the offers and calls to action.
Suzana: Yeah. Well we have this monthly newsletter where we really try to make it so it’s interactive. So the way we do that, we can volunteer demo equipment for brand new gear, a technology that we’re releasing that mouth. We might volunteer some new white papers for people to download and get more educated in certain aspects of the technology. We might offer an opportunity for meeting on an upcoming… one of the smaller events. So we basically try… we call to action and we try to incorporate a number of things including some announcements of discounts or some gear that we’re about to retire, but we have a lot of stock off or it could be anything that’s… it’s going to be of interesting to some part of the population.
So we try to make this new letters informative, full of interesting content, new content, and also some sort of call to action, so we get some interactivity. So usually we get 25 to 30% of our newsletters open and read. We’ve got each reader to search a lot of the links, download a lot of things, and really interact with the piece that we send out. So we’re quite happy. We’re always targeting more and trying to think of what can be of interest. But, yeah, we always basically aim from high content and something interesting that they would want to interact with us with.
Cindy: And you talked about how you track which links are clicked on the most and I think that’s really interesting. We do that as well. We go ahead and try it. If you know someone’s interested in this topic, we track that and if a lot of people are clicking on a link about a particular technology or a particular product, that helps us and informs us in our next trade show, in our marketing, in what the salespeople are doing. So the clients we were working with at NAB show as well, we go ahead and look at what links are clicked on the most and that helps inform as to where to put more effort going forward. So I know that that’s a technology that you use as well, which is great.
Suzana: Yeah, we try. There’s always a lot of work to do. We don’t feel like we’re even close to perfect. There’s all kinds of things that we add on a day to day basis and things that we noticed that we could be doing better from anywhere, from show to social media, to newsletters, to everything. So there’s a lot that goes into marketing. It doesn’t matter how many people you have or how many resources, you always feel like you’re short. We always feel like we could add more people, and more heads, and more help throughout the whole thing, but we’re pretty happy. We do what we can and we try to be creative. And the one thing that we noticed is that on a show like NAB… I’ve been in other shows before, always with technology, but slightly less focused than NAB before. And what I noticed is that 100% of the leads that came by are both at NAB every year is qualified, like 100%.
Cindy: That’s amazing.
Suzana: Yeah. Back in the days… I don’t know if there’s some people here in this seminar that used to go to COMDEX. They had all kinds of entertainers trying to gather people to booth and all kinds of fun people showing up, from students to families, and family members, and all kinds of people. We find that 100% of the leads that we gathered at a show like NAB are 100% qualified. So it is important to follow up with every single one of them. So that’s… we get it from NABs, how important every lead is because they all are 100% qualified.
Cindy: And you had a really interesting comment yesterday about the various shows you go to. For example, you go to NAB, New York and NAB show in April. Can you tell us about that in terms of the leads.
Suzana: We’ve found the leads very complimentary. We really don’t get a lot of the NAB, New York attendees that also go to NAB Vegas in our case. So NAB, New York, we cater to the broadcast and production, marketing in general. And we get a lot of those folks from each one of our prospects or each one of our current customers that don’t travel all the way to Vegas. So we get a lot of the New York setting, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, all those states in the east coast. And we don’t get one director of engineering or VP of engineering. We get folks underneath that person, which are actually the people who help recommend gear, and help test, and actually manage the gear, and the installation and deployment on day to day basis. So we find it very helpful to be at the New York show and to get to see this whole other crowd that we wouldn’t have if we just did the big NAB show in Vegas.
Cindy: Now, we’ve got some people on the call who have smaller companies and they might be feeling like, “Hey, I’m the only person following up on the leads here. And everything you’re talking about sounds like it’s for a big company.” Suzana, will you speak to that? What if the person’s like, “Hey, I’m the only person doing lead follow-up.” What comments do you have?
Suzana: I would say, just have a plan. Just stick to the plan. Just come home, segment your leads, organize whether they’re important companies in your list, some of the big giant companies or however you’re going to divide that up. Just try to divide it in three or four sets and tackle one at a time. As long as you get those folks within the four weeks after the show, I think you’ll be all right, especially because I think various companies do that right away.
Some companies follow up the day after with some mass mailer, some companies trickle down, some companies just pick up the phone and call everybody. So however you do it, even if you’re following up for six weeks after the show, I think it’s still on time. But whatever you do, just develop a plan that works for you, and with your schedule, and stick to it. Just all the way till you’ve gone through everybody. So I think you’d be surprised when you go through everybody, how many people have been thinking of you, or have questions back, or we called a meeting and just someone engaged back. So that’s what I would say.
Cindy: Nice. Nice. And one thing you commented earlier is that no matter the size of the company, small, medium, large, sometimes you wish we had more resources, right? And so I tend to think about is that old principle, the 80, 20 rule. I like to think about that. I think about what 20% is contributing the most to the bottom line. So there are all these things I can do, right? But pick the ones that are going to contribute most quickly to the bottom line and to your goals. And that’s true even with the sales reps and sales channels.
In my experience anyway, we might have a hundred dealers, reps that we’re working with and about 20 of them were bringing in the bulk of the money and closing the bulk of the deals. And that the same goes really for any marketing or doing any follow-up you’re doing, look at what’s going to contribute the most. And so with that I think we’ll wrap up and then we’ll come back around to all the questions that people have been posting on here. With that, Suzana, what do you think is sort of like the one thing… If someone is going to go away from this call and just do one thing, what would that one thing be that you’d suggest?
Suzana: I would think besides having a plan, I would say have a plan and when you follow up, try to be professional, prompt, and personal because it goes a long way. And keep in mind that you got to keep nurturing the leads throughout the next few months because the sales cycles are long. And one quick follow-up after the show probably won’t work on the long term.
Cindy: And to recap, what you might take away as a system for yourself today follow-up, or you’re just kind of getting started, the recap would be to segment.
We segment the leads, reach out shortly after the show, however you can get to it at the next few weeks after the show. We deliver relevant content when you’re either talking or sending a follow-up customer email or sending a mass mailer, just make sure you deliver relevant content and track results. I think that’s important to track how many people get back to you, how many people email back, how many people are opening the newsletters, or opening some of the links that you have on the mailer, or downloading some of the content. So I think tracking is a very important way, in our case, of justifying to management how important the shows are, and how valuable, and how we need to be part of them.
Nice. Well said. All right. So if you guys are taking notes and want to make a little plan for yourself, the plan would be to segment, to then put a system in place with some tool. So whether that system is to use an email system to follow up where you can track opens, clicks, and that kind of thing, put that system in place to be a spreadsheet as well, that type of thing. And then figure out your other touches throughout the year. Well that would be the third thing. Your other touches are going to be that email with the team photo in it so that you remind people, even if you’re a team of two, it’s okay. Put that in there. They’re going to see you and go, “Hey, I remember talking with them. They were awesome.” Right? Put the info in there. Think about what your regional shows are coming up. So that’s the third piece on your other touches. So those are the three things that I would suggest.
And actually, we have put together that sort of top three methods of following up on leads. And I was sharing that with people at NAB show. We worked with a lot of clients at the show. If you guys want that, I can send it to you offline separately. Kind of shoot me your email in the chat box or you can… actually, you can text me. Text the word boost to my company phone number here. So if you text the word boost to our company phone number, we’ll shoot you back those top three methods if you want that. Just happy to share it. Let’s come back to the questions that people had. And I’m just going to look through the chat box here.
Hey, somebody had a question about what editing tools that we use to edit the Webinar. We use Telestream’s ScreenFlow, and that’s usually the one that we use for doing the noise reduction, editing, just trimming whatever we need to do. You could certainly use Premiere, or Final Cut, or any of those as well. So that is the one that we use for that. And then we post it on Vimeo and share that link with NAB show. And then they grab that content and put it on their website. And then we have it on our website as well. So the hosting that we happen to use is Vimeo. Feel free to hit me up offline if you want more details.
All right. We have a question here about people who are looking for better ways to connect and work with other exhibitors. I definitely want to get your input on that Suzana, because I feel like Cobalt Digital does work with a lot of other exhibitors.
Suzana: Well, I’m not sure in which way the person is asking. We do have a lot of partners. We are a very friendly company. We have a lot of frenemies. A lot of companies that compete with us in some ways and collaborating others. Like I said, we have such a vast product line that we do overlap sometimes with many. In other ways, they help sell or refer leads to us and vice versa. So we all we’re very friendly. Out whole sales force is very experienced in that type of thing. So we open a lot of doors for other technology partners and other exhibitors and even partners that are not primary partners. So we try to work with everyone, but I’m not sure what exactly what angle the person… I think maybe this person is just asking about having a little group where you can chat once every couple of months, about better ways to do certain things. Maybe that person wants like a little exhibitor type of group, a little marketing team. That might be a good idea actually.
Cindy: We actually put a Facebook group together called broadcast media marketing. There are some folks on our call who are in that group right now as well. And so we’re trying to make that a community where we can share. Also, NAB show has a LinkedIn group, especially for exhibitors. And so Fallon is going to go ahead and put the… and I think she’s already put in to the chat already. You can join those groups. And I think it’s a great way to interact. If you’re trying to sell to other exhibitors or maybe do cross-promotion of product, what I like to think about with those is what we do with our clients and customers because at that point you’re looking to them almost to be a customer in the same way a channel partner is, if you will.
What’s In It For Me? (WIIFM)
And everybody thinks about what’s in it for me when they’re talking with somebody. Not in a bad way, but they’re always looking at what benefit is it to them, right? And so if you want to partner with other exhibitors, and this may be something you know already and have thought about, what do they get out of that relationship? What will you do to help them? And so everybody’s looking for that benefit. And so in any communication you have in terms of a partnership that’s like, “Here’s the benefit I can deliver to you. And here’s what I can do for you to make your life awesome and help you save time and money and all that good stuff.” So that’s a thought in terms of messaging, in terms of working with other exhibitors, but also other channel partners or your customers frankly. Go ahead and put your questions in the chat box here if you have questions about following up on leads. Just taking a look through here.
All right. I think we’ve answered all the questions. We kind of worked them in as we went and it looks like we hit everything up. So if you have a question for Suzana, you can see her email in the chat box here and if you have a question for me, you can hit me up on LinkedIn or also my email is there. And have a beautiful NAB. Be sure to let NAB know if you like these Webinars. I love working with them on this and it’s awesome. And we’re already getting ready for next year. So I’ll let them know what topics you would like to cover as well. And thank you, everybody. Have a beautiful day.
Suzana: Thank you. You too. Have a wonderful day. Thanks. Thanks, Cindy. Those are helpful. I really enjoyed these Webinars, so thank you.
Cindy: Thank you, Suzana. Great seeing you again.
Suzana: Thank you. Thanks, everyone.