Home » Strategy+ » Exhibition Performance Analysis: From the Selection of Measurable Criteria to ROI 6. Tracing & Assessing Actual Trade Show Performances through Follow-up Activities

Exhibition Performance Analysis: From the Selection of Measurable Criteria to ROI 6. Tracing & Assessing Actual Trade Show Performances through Follow-up Activities

In this article, we discuss advanced exhibition result analyses and the relevant assessment frameworks focusing on the cases from Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI), Association of the German Trade Fair Industry (AUMA) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), 3-stage exhibition performance assessment model suggested by American marketing researchers and Hewlett Packard (HP)’s trade show follow-up practices, where it is possible to not only quantitatively evaluate the performance of participation, but also to assess return on trade show investment (ROTSI).

It is expected that the comparison of these advanced exhibition assessment frameworks can facilitate the further discussion over the accuracy and efficiency of established exhibition assessment models, which have been required to be improved in its quantitative and economic feasibility, so that the tens of billions of won government aids on hundreds of foreign exhibition events could have more fruitful results.

6. Tracing & Assessing Actual Trade Show Performances through Follow-up Activities
: How sales leads can be converted to actual contracts?

As previously discussed through various case studies, it is imperative for participating companies to effectively utilize the performance assessment models by voluntarily measuring and assessing their trade show performance. The performance assessment is conducted mainly through a process of tracing and evaluating consultation with buyers. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of this practice, an optimum consultation or communication template should be developed in advance. A standardized template can be able to allow the company to immediately calculate the performance just by adding up the standardized performance indicators, and to trace and assess how many consultations are led to actual orders or contracts.
This is called sales lead in western countries. Sales leads are generally analyzed to identify not only how many leads a company can discover or build, but also how many actual orders and contracts have been derived from. Like this, the efficiency of converting sales leads into actual contracts, is important. Also, the efficiency can be determined by the sales conversion rate which is calculated through the ratio of contract price to the total consultation price. This sales conversion rate differs from the conversion efficiency we discussed in the previous discussion on the 3-stage model. The conversion efficiency focuses on the proportion of booth visitors opted to be a sales lead, while the sales conversion rate refers to the ratio of actual contracts derived from the leads to all opt-in lead conversions.
a measurement or assessment of the effects of an exhibition on increased export performances can be taken place using the standardized templates on site, so the standardized templates are highly recommended for the participants to adopt. The templates can not only contribute to the increased performances of the participants, but also improve the assessment and management of trade show aid programs performances. In the following section, we discuss what is sales lead, and how we can utilize them to make an increase in actual contracts and sales.

What is a Sales Lead?

Sales leads in general, refer to the personal information such as name, company, contacts, and point of interest of a person who expressed his/her interests in a certain product or service. In exhibitions, booths ask visitors to fill a sales lead card that contains information items including the basic personal information (name, company, position, address, contacts, etc.) and visitor category (retail, wholesale, distributor, etc.), point of interests, opinions and comments and the person in charge of management.

Step 1. Sorting Out Qualified Sales Lead; Generating a List of Potential Customers
Qualified Sales leads are sorted based on a certain set of criteria to generate a list of potential customers. Unfortunately the term leads are often confused with the following misconceptions.
– Contact of visitors exchanged their name card with the give-away
– A contact included in the mailing lists of the preliminary email campaigns
– List of visitors collected through various channels

Collecting wrong information leads to wrong follow-up activities, ultimately hampering the entire process of sales conversion. So, it is imperative to establish and use a set of uniform, systematic and standardized sales lead templates to prevent disqualified leads from being recognized as potential customers.

Step 2. Sales Lead Tracking : How to Develop a List of Customers to a List of Contracts
Sales lead tracking refers to a series of processes to generate a sales lead and develop it to an actual order or contract. As previously discussed, sales lead management should not be stopped by the listing up, but extended until the leads are converted to actual contracts or orders. If the sales lead tracking is taken place as effective as intended, the company could have the ability to derive intended benefits from exhibition events. The followings describes the typical procedures consisting of a general sales tracking process.

Filling Up Lead Cards
In this step, the booth personnel fill up a lead card based on the communication with the visitor at exhibitions. A lead card is generated on site to remember the basic personal information, interests and requests of the visitors.

Providing Materials
Sales or marketing materials regarding products and the company are provided. The materials are often brochures or product samples which provides detail information on the products or company.

Sales Call or Follow-up Activities
Based on the lead cards, personnel in charge of follow-up actions will make a call or arrange meetings. Generally sales reps take this task, or take a list of selective sales leads sorted out by a third party marketing agencies. The follow-up period may differ depending on the purchase cycle of the products or service, but generally spans six months up to a year.

Reporting Follow-up Results
The results of the follow-up activities are collected and categorized. Most companies are negligent or inattentive to this procedure. However, analyzing the results of leads follow-up and utilization is very important in assessing the trade show performances.

Forming a List of Results
The last step is to list up all the results. The list cannot be meaningful if composed with one-dimensional information such as total number of leads. So it is important to provide more dimensional and credible data. The sales conversion ratio would be a good example. The participation of an exhibition can be a loss of time and money, if the follow-up activities are not taken place based on the sales leads. For example, if there is a company generated more sales leads from an exhibition, compared to the previous year, but there is no potential buyer wanting to build a contract with them. We can say the company’s participation in the exhibition was successful? Sales lead tracking is a task as much important as the sales lead generation.

Trade Show Aid Programs ? A Good Example of Standardized Consultation Template
Generally, sales lead templates are designed for consultation on site at the exhibition but are not extended to the lead tracking processes that the follow-up activities cannot be properly figured out. In this regard, the Association of Korea Exhibition Industry (AKEI) has developed and distributed a set of standard consultation templates so that companies can track and assess the follow-up activities. The templates are very effective and innovative tools for the domestic exhibitors and are expected to contribute to the entire process of the trade show performance assessment and setting up strategies to improve the relevant projects.
Also, the AKEI’s standard templates allows to assess the purchasing power of individual visitors in three steps to help facilitate the follow-up activities. The 3-step assessment process goes like the followings. First, if the buyer is ready to purchase and plans to purchase in near future, and if an immediate handling support is required due to the large volume of purchase, then the case is rated as A class. If the buyer is ready to purchase but it takes a longer time frame, then it is rated as B class. If the buyer has no purchase plan but is interested in the purchase, so the relevant materials should be provided at them moment, then it is rated as C class.

Step3. Measuring and Managing the Effectiveness and Efficiency Indexes
Another important task that should be accompanied by the sales lead tracking is the measurement of efficiency indices such as sales conversion rate or ROI. Qualified sales leads are discovered and a contract is developed through a series of systematic follow-up activities, then it is time to figure out the contract conversion ratios and the what the figures imply in financial terms. These measurement processes is meaningful and important in that they allow us to pre-assess the effectiveness and efficiency of future trade shows and better plan and manage the relevant plans and strategies.

The indices of effectiveness may include number of buyers discovered, number of potential consultations, total number of contracts derived, and total contract price, while the efficiency indices may include total cost, cost for discovering buyers, cost for generating potential consultations, cost for closing contracts, BCR and ROI. We have identified that the advanced trade show performance assessment models also include a series of processes beginning with selection of effectiveness factors and ending up with calculating the indices. Through these processes, the participating company, the hosting organizations and the stake holders can expect a continuous qualitative improvements as well as quantitative growths pertaining to the trade show performance. Examples of the efficiency indices are like the followings.

Sales conversion rate
Sales conversion rates can be a tool to evaluate the sales conversion ratio. It is determined by calculating the ratio of qualified sales leads led to actual contracts to the total number of qualified leads discovered at the exhibition. The importance of this ratio lies in the fact that the sales lead conversions do not always lead to the actual purchase or contract. Therefore, it is more important to grasp the sales conversion rate than simply counting the sales leads, in order to figure out the financial benefits a company obtained through a participation in a trade show event. Sales conversion rate allows companies to assess how successful the on-site consultation was, and how many actual contracts were derived from the exhibition.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)
The author of Trade Show and Event Marketing, insisted that the CPL (cost per lead) is one of the most important factors in assessing trade show performance. CPL is calculated by dividing the total program cost by qualified sales leads. The program cost refers to a program taken place during the entire event dates, not just a one-time program taken place sometime during the event, while the qualified sales lead refers to a sales lead with an affirmative effectiveness. CPL is an attractive tool because it allows companies to establish a consistent cost criteria for any future events to participate in, while making it possible to compare the findings with other marketing events and channels besides exhibitions. Public relationship strategies to promote a product may include exhibition, advertisement, press release, promotions through SNS or many others, and CPL allows us to compare the effectiveness of all of these strategies.

Cost Per Contact
Another most important factor the author of Trade Show and Event Marketing suggested is Cost Per Contact (CPC). CPC is calculated by dividing the total cost of program by total number of contracts derived from the exhibition. CPC is also very important indicator since it allows, as CPL does, to compare with other marketing tools. However, it is not recommended to assess the financial performances only using this index. To have more accurate assessment, the ROI should be assessed with the CPC and CPL.

Return On Investment (ROI)
ROI is the most common indicator of efficiency and thus has been widely used and adopted to assess the economic feasibility of a project. ROI is calculated by dividing pure profits by investment. For example, a company invested a million dollars for an exhibition, and returned 1.2 million sales from the exhibition, then the ROI is 20%. As it is the most widely adopted index to evaluate the economic performance, it provides an objective implications to companies when they are to assess the efficiency of an exhibition in financial terms.

Step4. Generating & Managing an ROI Matrix ? a Comprehensive and Dimensional Trade Show Performance Assessment Based on Multiple Factors

ROI Metrics
As previously discussed, there are various methods to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of trade shows. However, it is not recommended to adopt a single criteria to assess the entire exhibition performance. Therefore, in many advanced countries, an ROI matrix is generated and used for dimensional analyses and assessments. The metrices are recommended to build after an exhibition ends. An ROI matrix may include various indices including sales conversion rate or CPL and effectiveness factors to generate those indices. The ROI matrix allows companies to calculate the ROI, and thus to ultimately figure out whether and why their participation in an exhibition was a right or wrong decision in financial terms.

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