How to Qualify Leads at Your Events

A marketing event is an ideal way to interact one-on-one with current and potential customers. In a world saturated by digital, a marketing event creates a valuable personal relationship between your business and your ideal client.

Even better, a marketing event can do more than build strong relationships, it can help you generate leads. New leads are the lifeblood of every successful business. They strengthen your portfolio and help the business grow.

What is a qualified lead?
Knowing which attendees are qualified leads and which are just along for the ride ensures that your time and money is spent efficiently.

Identifying qualified leads lets you tailor your pipeline to those potential clients. Don’t turn someone offer by aggressively following up when a lighter touch is needed. And don’t lose out on potential customers by failing to follow up with someone who is on the fence.

So how do you tell if someone is interested? They ask a lot of questions. They opt-in to receive emails or follow up information. They post about your event or company on social media. They try hands-on demos.

Usually, the more touch-points a lead interacts with, the warmer that lead becomes. So create multiple opportunities for attendees to engage with you. That can be through presentations, demos, Q&A sessions, social media sharing, opt-ins and more.

Knowledge is power
Getting the most out of your event marketing starts with gathering as much data as possible about your attendees. Go beyond who showed up and who didn’t. Keep track of who attended which parts of the event and who was most engaged throughout the process.

The tools you use to track attendees can range from the traditional to the cutting edge. You might ask attendees to sign in to a talk or drop their business card into a fishbowl to win a prize. Or you might have attendees scan into a seminar using a barcode or enter a contest by posting to social media using your event hashtag.

Convince attendees to opt-in to follow-ups by promising to email them a link to the slideshow or similar resource. All of these tactics allow you to see who was interested in which topics. That will come in handy when you’re ready to follow up.

Start with sign-up
Start gathering information from the very first interaction. When attendees sign up for your event, they should fill out a simple form that includes such information as their name, title, company, and reason for attending.

This simple information can help you organize your follow-up later. You can sometimes see right off the bat whether that attendee will be a qualified lead.

If you’re selling to businesses, a c-suite executive from a large company is probably a qualified lead from the start. If you’re selling to individual consumers you may need to get more creative with your questions. For example, if you’re a pool company, ask if the person owns their home or is renting.

Use social media
Social media is an effective way to gauge attendee interest. Attendees who are engaged in what you have to offer may post on social media. Make it easy for them by creating a custom hashtag. You can even create photo opportunities that remind them to post their pictures.

Host a Twitter-based Q&A session. And make sure someone is manning your social media during the event to quickly answer any questions attendees may have. Monitoring engagement in this way can help you identify leads that are ready for more information.

The beauty of social media is that even people who can’t attend the event can experience it in some way. You may even find additional leads among the comments and likes from social media during the event.

The proof is in the follow-up
After the event is over, you’ll be left with a ton of information to sift through. Quickly identify your most qualified leads and rank them by level of interest. Then follow up.

Tailor your follow-up to the level of engagement and interest. A lead who shared multiple pictures of the event on social media might be a warmer lead and require a different approach than one who just dropped their business card into a raffle.

The No Joke System for Attracting Clients

A few months ago I re-tooled my system for teaching people to attract new clients. It’s a new take on an old approach.

I called it ABDO – Attention-Based Direct Outreach.

And it’s all about proactively reaching out to prospective clients and ultimately turning them into paying clients.

There are a number of things that makes this approach different than what most self-employed professionals do to attract new clients.

Let me count the ways. There are six. Yeah, I know, this is a three-minute-to-read-article. Who has three minutes to read these days?

Maybe you, if your client attracting system isn’t working.

1. Proactive. This means not waiting around for someone to contact you. That’s passive marketing, which is getting your name, face, and message out there, but hoping someone will ultimately contact you.

From your website and newsletter, to networking and speaking, these all become passive when you don’t take any initiative to follow-up or make direct contact with prospective clients.

But proactive marketing is scary. You put yourself out there and see if you can get a conversation or an appointment. For many, this is terrifying because of the possibility of rejection. Such is life.

2. Humor. Using humor in your outreach (especially in your emails) is a great way to break the ice and get attention. Despite its amazing effectiveness, it’s relatively rare. How may emails do you get that incorporate humor of any kind? No, most emails are deadly boring. So they get very low response. Even this one is kinda boring. So I’m proving my point.

We’re in the early weeks of my new ABDO group program, but participants are already sending out humorous emails and they are surprised at the positive response and the willingness of recipients to set up meetings. But no more humor here!

3. Value Proposition. A funny email may get attention, but it won’t get you far if your value proposition is weak. If you’re contacting a prospect, why should they be interested in listening to you? How can you help them? And what are you doing that’s different?

If you don’t clearly articulate all of that in a concise, (but also entertaining email) it’ll get deleted like all the rest.

4. Follow-up Conversations. It’s rare that someone will respond to your email with, “I’m sold! When can we start?” If only. No, the purpose of an outreach email is to generate enough interest that they’ll be willing to speak with you for a minute or two. That’s all. But it’s a lot.

Years ago, I did a lot of speaking engagements. At the end I collected business cards from the participants and then I followed up by both email and phone. I had one simple goal: get a follow-up conversation to see if they both needed some marketing assistance and were open to getting that assistance.

In that call I asked a number of questions and shared about some of the results I’d produced for my clients. I didn’t do any selling. I was preparing the ground for a selling conversation. If they showed enough interest, I’d set up a complimentary Marketing Strategy Session.

5. Marketing Materials. After I’d set up an appointment for a Strategy Session, I’d say. “I have some information about how I work that I’d like to send to you. Can you please take a look at it before we meet for the Strategy Session? It will save us a lot of time and make the Strategy Session more productive.” I sent it along and most would read it. And it did save time in that I had to spend very little time in the Strategy Session talking about my services. I could focus on their needs and goals instead.

6. The Strategy Session. Selling has a bad name. We think of it as manipulative and pushy. But real selling is the exact opposite. It’s mostly asking questions and listening. Where are you now in your business? What are your goals? What are your challenges? How will things change if you overcome those challenges?

I have a colleague who calls this process “Sacred Selling” in that it’s a deeply personal and caring conversation to discover if you can partner with someone to make a difference in their life and business.

Those six steps are the essence of the ABDO system. And despite the Internet, social media, and videos, I’ve found that this system still works the best to attract high-end clients who have big challenges that require a real professional with specialized knowledge and skills.

Yes, it’s wonderful if someone calls you because of positive word-of-mouth. But if you get tired of waiting for the phone to ring, this is the next best thing.

It’s not trendy or even that cool, but it sure does work. And even if you use some humor to get attention on the front end, I promise you it’s no joke.

The Long Lost Art of Being Discovered

One of the most of

fascinating Hollywood legends is the discovery of film actress Lana Turner at the soda fountain in Schwab’s drug store in Hollywood, by director Mervyn Le Roy in 1936.

Wikipedia tells a different story, saying that Turner was discovered by The Hollywood Reporter publisher, William Wilkerson, not at Schwab’s, but at the Top Hat Café.

Nevertheless, this legendary story gave rise to the American myth that “anybody can be discovered, anyone can be successful because of a stroke of luck and the right connections.”

However, Turner’s online biography states: “She wasn’t found at a drugstore counter like some would have you believe, but that legend persists. She pounded the pavement as other would-be actresses have done, are doing, and will continue to do in search of movie roles.”

She wasn’t even born with the name Lana Turner; her given name was Julia Jean Mildred Francis Turner (try putting that on a movie poster).

Turner, one of the greatest Hollywood beauties, had a film career that spanned 48 years.

Why all this interest in Lana, Turner?

I think it’s the confluence of the Academy Awards show on Sunday night and a meeting I had with a client last week.

At the Oscars, I was inspired by the hard work and dedication of the many nominees who had worked, sometimes for decades, before being recognized for their excellence.

My client, who is a brilliant consultant with many professional credentials and accolades, also inspires me. She is smart, committed, and hard working.

But I think she might be working a little too hard on hoping to be discovered by the right person.

For her, this means making connections with influential people who ­- she hopes – will refer her to new clients.

It’s wonderful to be referred by others who are more established, successful, and visible. And this approach to marketing can sometimes work when played as a long game.

But if you put most of your attention on these hoped-for referrals, you may not spend enough time connecting directly with prospective clients right now.

Pounding the pavement is certainly not romantic, but it’s infinitely more practical.

Advice to my client:

Keep an eye out for long-term referral partners, but put most of your effort into connecting with, speaking to, and meeting with those who can buy your professional services today.