Each year, events and conferences like Dreamforce represents the biggest line item for marketing and sales organizations, and for good reason. Events are a great way to get valuable face time with your most targeted prospects and a vehicle to get your brand name out there. For many companies, the difference between a good or great showing at a tradeshow can make or break a year.

Making Tradeshows Count

Well said, Ilya Semin (Datanyze CEO). If you’re going to go big at a tradeshow, you’d better make it count. And the biggest gap for many companies isn’t tradeshow strategy or execution, but making it count in the follow up dance.

“The biggest missed opportunity is playing it too safe.” – Ann Handley, MarketingProfs

How many times have you gotten a quality demo at a tradeshow, only to be followed up with radio silence, or generic, unresearched, follow-up emails? We’ve all gotten the automated email sequence that ends with a hail mary, desperation throw that’s probably better off not heaved in the first place — it just looks bad.

crappy cold emails

Lighting Money on Fire

“In order for ABM to be successful you need personalized content.” – Dayna Rothman, Everstring

Of course, most follow-ups aren’t as bad as the email above. Many pass as OK — they don’t say “Hey Friend,” and may even contain a decent call to action like request demo or reading a recent publication.

But whether your marketing team just spent $80,000 or $500,000 on an event that netted you a few hundred or few thousand prospects, getting names are expensive, and quality interactions at an event are usually even more expensive.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s pretend the average cost of an event lead costs $100, and 1 in 5 are good ones inside your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Now your average event interaction costs $500. And let’s say there are 200 of them from a mid-size event.

Average response rate from an automated follow-up: 5%

Average response rate from a researched, sophisticated follow-up: 20%

Now let’s say your average deal size is $50,000 and you have an opportunity close rate of 25%. That means that an average opportunity is worth $12,500 to you. If half your meetings turn into opportunities, that means a meeting is worth $6,250.

To tie it all together, an automated follow-up nets you 5% of 200, or 10 meetings worth $6,250 average to your business, where a sophisticated follow-up yields 20% of 200, or 40 meetings worth $6,250 for a difference of 30 meetings.

A difference of 30 meetings means that you’re leaving 30 x $6,250 = $187,500 on the table by using an automated approach vs. a carefully curated one.

And those are just the quantifiable benefits of good tradeshow follow-up, we haven’t even addressed the damage a bad follow-up (like the one above) can do to your brand.

How to Win at Tradeshow FUs

“Without a solid data foundation, signal-driven campaigns and other account-based strategies and tactics are not likely to be successful.” – Kaitlin Stich, Datafox

“By having high-quality marketing data, you’re provided with enormous potential for actionable strategies to reach your target accounts.” – Trisha Randolph, Reachforce

A well thought out and researched email is a good one. Here are some basic Dos and Don’ts to use as guidance:


  • Your research beforehand. Understand the interactions between both sides and any existing relationships or recent triggers (funding, new hires, product launches and other announcements)
  • most-engaged-accountsTeam follow-up. Involve and high ranking folks on your side to add more value
  • our teamPersonalize each interaction for maximum relevance; emails should be personalized, reviewed and approved by a human.
  • Try multiple channels. Email is great, but phone, direct mail, social media, and even knocking on doors can work.
  • account-sesame-workshopUse a creative (but not obnoxious) email subject. “READ THIS” will get you an open + unsubscribe
  • Have good firmographic, technographic and intent data on the account level so your reps can do research with ease. A recent Dreamforce session talked about the importance and ease of (HGData, Bombora & Data.com) integration into Salesforce.


  • Robo-spam your most important contacts at your most important accounts.
  • Wait until the last minute. Have your follow-up plan in place before the tradeshow even starts.
  • Have sales and marketing work in silos. You are not running a relay race — tradeshow follow-ups are a team sport where everyone (sales, marketing, execs) passes the ball back and forth so that the team can score.
  • Limit yourself to only the prospect that went to the tradeshow. Instead, look holistically at the account and parlay the tradeshow interaction with a meeting with a key stakeholder and/or decision makers in other departments.

So there you have it. Follow these keys and you too could see more ROI from events of all sizes, physical or digital. Make sure your tradeshow FU strategy is sound and doesn’t reek of the wrong type of FU.

For more information about how to get more engagement from your best accounts, download our new 142 page guide, The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development.

Remember, revenue is a team sport. Have fun out there!

Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

2 Responses to “Cracking the [[TRADESHOW]] Follow Up Code”

November 07, 2016 at 10:38 am, Brian said:

Great read, Charlie.

There’s two things I’d like to add.

Firstly, you correctly state that you should do your research before following up (seeing if there has been any recent triggers, such as funding, new hires, product launches and other announcements).

But often, the best research you can do has already fallen in your lap. It’s to be found in the conversations your team already had with the prospect at the booth.

We’ve all experienced a prospect who starts to share more and more of what they’re interested in as the conversation progresses. By the end of a conversation on the booth, you can often uncover who their existing vendor is, why they’re open to looking around, when their current contract comes to an end, how large the opportunity could be, etc.

It’s this information — which isn’t publicly available anywhere — that supercharges your ability to create a follow-up that resonates; that shows the prospect that you’ve listened to them.

But too often these nuggets are lost in the ether, as a badge is scanned and no contextually relevant information makes it back to your CRM. And that’s a huge shame.

If you just wanted new names, with no context on what they wanted, there’s cheaper ways to do it than tradeshows!

Takeaway: make sure the golden snippets of information you uncover at the booth make it back to whoever is doing the follow-up.

Secondly, the follow-up process you state above is amongst the most robust I’ve read about. I can see how Playmaker adds value there, and I’d definitely advise following-up like this.

But in my experience there’s an intermediate step you can take.

We advise that you send your tradeshow prospects an email from the booth. Is it as well-crafted as the follow-ups you describe above? No. But you educate your prospect that they’ll be receiving an automated email from you immediately, and that this email will include content around the topics you’ve just discussed and a calendar invitation for you both to have a more productive follow-up later.

Doing it this way sets the expectation that you will be investing time into the opportunity (and that you want to give it the attention it deserves). But it also keeps momentum high, giving the prospect a chance to learn more about your offering in the meantime, and it increases the likelihood that the follow-up meeting will actually happen (as you’ve pencilled some time into their diary on the booth). It also releases the pressure on sales reps to follow-up with *every* prospect in the days after an event — they can prioritise their efforts knowing every prospect has received at least some info already.

Takeaway: do follow-up in a manner deserving of the opportunity, but find ways to keep momentum high (and lock-in those follow-up meetings slots on the show floor!)

**Shameless Plug**

We’re building tools that help B2B marketers better engage prospects at events — including the stuff above. If that sounds interesting, check us out: captuvate.com


March 11, 2017 at 1:46 am, Matt Benati said:

Charlie – I like this article because it shows that quality and thoughtfulness yield great results. I also like the basic funnel math – it really drives home how customer acquisition cost (CAC) grows quickly when leaks and poor quality leads hinder conversion from stage to stage. Great to catch up at #RevSummit17 – really enjoyed our conversation.


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