When it comes to really connecting with potential supporters and future advocates, there’s nothing quite like an in-person event. Conferences, exhibits, workshops, and trade shows all give you a chance to make face-to-face connections with community members and bring them closer to your organization.

In-person events allow you to build meaningful relationships that just don’t play out the same way online or at a distance. But your organization’s ability to leverage those relationships is ultimately only as good as your event lead retrieval system. Let’s take a closer look at how you can make sure yours is up to snuff.

What Is Lead Retrieval at Events?

The term “lead retrieval” refers to an organization’s approach to first capturing potential leads at in-person events and then further qualifying them for follow-up at a later time.

Leads can be considered “captured” once you’ve effectively secured a way to follow up with that person at a later date. To clarify, a lead is any person who actively expresses interest in your organization’s brand, services, or activities.

How Does Lead Retrieval Typically Work?

Lead retrieval can vary from one event to the next, but the overall process typically looks like this from start to finish:

  • Initial capture of the lead, whether that’s via digitized badge scanners, QR codes, lead management software, or analog methods like paper forms
  • Qualification of each lead via methods like note-taking, surveys, automatic organization, and other data-collection or segmentation methods
  • Follow-up contact from your organization
  • Additional reporting and segmentation activities via fully integrated software options and other systems

Through this process, your organization can unlock new potential connections to support your overall goals.

Lead Capture vs. Lead Retrieval

Although lead capture and lead retrieval are both part of the lead management process, it’s important to understand they’re not the same thing.

Lead capture is the process of collecting new leads in the first place. Old-school methods can include having attendees fill out paper forms or collecting business cards in a receptacle for later review. However, many modern methods leverage technology like interactive apps or advanced software to streamline the process of collecting information from many leads at a single event.

On the other hand, lead retrieval refers to the process of accessing or locating information that’s already been captured. Depending on the event in question, this could be information provided before the event or collected during it.

Traditional Methods for Capturing Leads at Events

Today’s cutting-edge technology makes the process of capturing and retrieving event leads nearly automatic. However, some organizations and events still leverage traditional methods for various reasons. Some common examples include:

Event-specific badge scanners

Some events rent out badge scanners to exhibitors to facilitate the process of collecting vital information from attendees. Event badges will have QR codes, barcodes, or even RFID tags that you’ll scan to capture attendee information. However, potential obstacles like equipment learning curves and data delays can make it difficult to follow up with interested leads promptly.

Business card collection

You may have attended events where exhibitors invited potential leads to leave business cards in fish bowls or collection boxes for potential follow-up later. Some organizations may alternatively scan business cards to speed up the process.

Traditional paper forms

Many organizations still invite leads to fill out paper forms to start the lead retrieval process. However, the slowness of this method may discourage attendees from leaving their information in the first place.

Methods like these technically get the job done, but they also require tedious additional transcription processes later on and leave a lot of room for error. This can get in the way of effectively following up on leads while they’re still hot and potentially ready to convert.

Why Lead Retrieval Is Essential for Event Exhibitions

Whether your organization relies on old-school traditional methods or prefers a more tech-forward approach, capturing leads in the first place is one thing. Successfully qualifying and following up with those leads is another.

Coming up with a proper event lead retrieval plan beforehand is crucial for reasons like the following:

  • Speedy processing and follow-up. If you don’t implement a reliable way to follow up with qualified leads in a timely manner, you can bet that one of your competitors will. Streamlined solutions like lead capture apps and dedicated software make the process of collecting and processing data near instant, so you can focus on connecting instead.
  • Meeting attendee expectations. In a world that’s increasingly tech-driven, an organization’s lead management methods matter when it comes to first impressions. For example, presenting interested event attendees with cumbersome paper forms to fill out when they’re expecting something more modern could inspire second thoughts about trusting your organization with their future experiences.
  • Gaining access to valuable analytics. Data is king when it comes to running a thriving digital-age organization, and your go-to event lead retrieval process should reflect that. Advanced lead retrieval systems don’t just take the guesswork out of processing the information you need. They also put valuable analytics and insights within easy reach.
  • Maximizing return on investment (ROI). Attending events and putting together strong presentations require a substantial investment on the part of your team. However, you won’t see the return on that investment that you deserve without a reliable, professional way to make the most of the leads you collect.

With a dedicated event lead retrieval plan, your organization can build stronger relationships with prospects and streamline the process of following up with them.

Key Benefits of Lead Retrieval

Some events like major conventions or massive trade shows present organizations with the opportunity to walk away with thousands of leads to pursue. Formal event lead retrieval plans allow you to reap important benefits like:

  • Scalable data collection. The only way you’ll realistically be able to manage hundreds (if not thousands) of new leads is a system that makes it easy to scale the process. Think automated management platforms, user-friendly software, and efficient collection systems.
  • Better-quality interactions. When your lead retrieval process virtually takes care of itself, you and your team can focus your efforts where they really count. Instead of taking manual notes, you can shake hands and welcome attendees. Instead of struggling with rented scanning equipment, you can truly connect with people and get them excited about partnering with you in the future.
  • Maximized opportunities. Many event attendees will simply assume modern organizations have equally modern solutions in place for collecting information. They may not carry physical business cards or be willing to fill out paper forms for that reason, leading to missed opportunities for companies without an organized lead retrieval system in place.

By prioritizing event lead retrieval, your organization can tap into all of these benefits and make the most of your time at the event.

More is more when it comes to valuable lead data. The more you know about your leads, the easier it will be to qualify them later and facilitate fruitful future interactions. You’ll also be better able to put together effective follow-up strategies and customized outreach plans that carry a higher chance of converting each lead.

Thorough, detailed data is also the key to evaluating the overall success of a particular exhibit or presentation. You can better assess what worked about your approach versus what could use some improvement the next time around, making it possible to improve your presentation technique with each new opportunity.

Ultimately, making an incredible success out of your presence at a convention, trade show, exhibition, or other event is about so much more than simply giving a quality presentation in the first place. Without a solid event lead retrieval plan in place, even a world-class exhibit won’t measure up to its original potential.

For that reason, it’s important to put as much thought and innovation into your lead retrieval strategy as any other aspect of your event. The benefits the right option can bring to the table could be game-changers for your organization moving forward.