Lead qualification is the process by which leads - people you meet who might be interested in your products - are qualified to become prospects - people who absolutely are interested in your products and should be pushed to your account or sales team. While most leads from a trade show could eventually become prospects, lead qualification allows you to prioritize which ones to reach out to first.
But, how do you prioritize leads when you’re standing in a booth making acquaintances with hundreds of people in a day? What constitutes a good lead from a trade show? How can you quickly bucket those leads into tiers that make sense?
We recommend the ABC method.
The ABC method for trade show lead scoring
ABC refers to the three buckets or tiers in which we will be placing our leads from the show:
A Leads: These are people who have a strong fit to your ideal consumer, who were highly engaged in your exhibit and with your brand in general, and who demonstrate strong purchase intent.
B Leads: These are people who have a fairly strong fit to your ideal consumer, who show fairly high engagement with your brand at the show, and who demonstrate some purchase intent, or eventual purchase intent.
C Leads: These are people who may or may not entirely fit your ideal consumer profile, who showed some passing interest and engagement toward your brand, and who may be less-than-ready to make a purchase in your space right now.
In order to understand how to measure the three factors shown here - fit, engagement, and intent - let’s explore those further:
Gauging lead fit
Before the show, make a list of the top qualities that a lead might have in order to be a good fit for your service. Include demographic information, business or consumer motivations, attitude and aptitude in your industry, and so forth.
As you meet with prospects at a trade show, conference, or while networking, ask detailed questions. Find out what they are going through and what might solve those problems. Note how many of those pillar qualities they possess.
It may be difficult to run through a long, laborious checklist during the buzz on the show floor, so keep it simple.
Example: “Our ideal fit would be Marketing Managers or Directors of Marketing for SaaS companies or software agencies, especially those who have problem X”
In the example above, An A level lead would be in the correct position with the right type of company, and will have expressed the identified problem. B leads might have two of those key identifiers, and C leads may have one or none. But remember, consumer fit isn’t the only factor we use to score a lead.
Gauging lead engagement
Even the most compatible leads can fall flat in the sales funnel if they’re not engaged. If they don’t find your brand enticing and memorable, or if they don’t seem heavily focused on learning more about you, this might not be the right time. Highly engaged leads are those who make a beeline for your booth and immediately start asking questions or those who, once drawn into your exhibit, will stay captivated by continued information about your products. Highly engaged leads are more likely to follow you on socials or encourage you to scan their badge or stay in touch. A great fit lead who demonstrates this behavior is a definite A lead. B and C leads may show less of this enthusiasm.
Gauging lead intent
Some trade show engagement is just about scoring free swag or winning a contest you’re putting up in your booth. To ensure that your lead also has the intent to buy, gauge the FOCUS of their engagement with you from just being chatty or outgoing, to demonstrating a genuine interest in pricing guides, a deeper understanding of features, or access to next steps with you. It’s imperative to determine whether or not the person you’re speaking with is the decision-maker and whether or not they have budget set aside for a purchase like yours. A-level intent would be proactive, budget-sure, and ready to schedule or take further action. B-level intent might have more questions or might be heavily interested but low on budget. C-level intent is just browsing.
Once you get the hang of quickly assessing fit, engagement, and intent with each passing lead, you’ll be able to score people right away and focus more of your efforts at the show, and after the show, on those A+, right-fit, ready-to-buy leads.
To learn more about lead management, read our guide called "A Trade Show Team’s Guide to Lead Management: Taking a Collaborative Approach Between Marketing & Sales."