Why the Cheapest Lead Retrieval System Isn’t Really that Cheap (Part 1)
Nov 18, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

Many times booth exhibitors’ hem and haw over the rental cost of an automated lead system. They justify the cost of exhibiting, time away from the office and staffing to their boss. But when it comes to automating the collection of leads, the conversation falls short.

Here is the ironic thing — that is exactly what exhibitors are there to do. Meet new people and turn them into clients. Period. End of story. This blog will define the seemingly cheapest ways to collect leads and the truth about the total cost when looking at your image, pace and ability to follow-up with prospects.


It is cheaper to collect business cards and sort them out after the show.

After your 3-day conference, you and your team “pow-wow” over the 100’s of crumpled up, coffee-stained business cards you have gathered.

“What did John Doe from XYZ company want to know?” one of your teammates asks.

Everyone discusses it and no one can remember who he was or what he wanted. So, his card goes into the general email blast pile, that lead becomes cold and is most probably lost to your competitor.

Let’s analyze the total cost:

  1. You are relying on the memory and note taking of yourself and others (costly)
  2. The business card could be lost (more costly)
  3. The follow-up is most likely going to be cold, if completed at all (most costly)
  4. You and your staff are now spending precious time doing something that could have been completed on the trade show floor (2 hours x 5 people x $35/hour = $350)
  5. Data entry needs to be completed of which many mistakes can be made (20 hours x $35/hour = $700)

The cheaper solution is an automated Lead Retrieval System.

By scanning the attendee’s bar coded badge or a magnetic strip card, you can gather basic information about the attendee in a fraction of a second. Here are some of the other benefits of a Lead Retrieval System:

  • Once you gather the basic information and what the attendee is interested in learning more about, you can easily organize the data and import it into a spreadsheet or CRM system.
  • Once in the CRM system, you can assign which rep will follow up with the attendee after the show and have a process to see when and how often they followed up with each lead.
  • It will help your team close business started on the show floor because the data will be correct and the follow-up will be timely and tailored to the attendee’s need.

It is cheaper to use the paper printout provided by the show manager.

The show manager has provided you with an alphabetical listing of the 2,000 attendees at the show. You can tell by perusing the listing, it is cumbersome and incomplete. However, you are committed to using it and since you have 4 other individuals in your booth, you have made 5 additional copies.

Someone comes to the booth. You or your team is slyly trying to locate their name on the listing by looking at their badge. You find their name and realize it is incomplete, and before you can even ask a few engaging and qualifying questions, you start drilling down on the quantitative information of the attendee. Not a good start and probably makes that person ill at ease to begin with.

Then to top it all off, you have no room for notes by their name. So you hope that no one comes after them so you can write something down. But if you are busy, that too goes by the wayside.

So the best case you can hope for is a complete listing, minimal notes, and a prospect that already thinks you are running your business in the stone age.

Here are the true costs:

  1. Copying the list ($25)
  2. Consolidating the listings of others into one master list (10 hours x $35/hour = $350)
  3. Data entry of which many mistakes can be made (20 hours x $35/hour = $700)
  4. Asking the attendee about incomplete information on the listing (costly)
  5. Not knowing what the prospect truly needs because of limited or poor note taking (more costly)
  6. Negative brand image (most costly)

The cheaper solution is an automated Lead Retrieval System.

For all the before mentioned reasons, an automated system makes a lot of sense. If your booth is already stocked with marketing collateral, tchotchkes and business cards, having a paper lead retrieval system is going to add one more thing to your staff.

Because an automated system takes a few seconds to gather basic information, you can spend the bulk of your time asking qualifying questions and recording them into the lead system. All the data is collected on the spot; no need to consolidate lists or rely on memory.

Check out Part 2 on Wednesday to catch the rest of the story on why the cheapest lead retrieval isn’t really that cheap.

Contact AV Event Solutions and SmartSource Rentals for state-of-the-art interactive technology tool rentals including lead retrieval systems!

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