The pile of business cards

Monday morning, you’re back from an out of town trade show held from Wednesday to Friday of the week before. Your jacket is filled with a bunch of business cards, quickly stowed away in the heat of the moment. in one pocket, the “good” and in the other, the “not as good”. You’d jotted down some notes on a few of them, at least the ones made of paper that you could actually write on.

Gloating, you take out the pile of cards and toss them on your desk like a pirate revelling in his stash, ‘Arrgh, success!

Wait a second. Are you measuring the success of your presence at a trade show through the thickness of your pile of business cards? Suddenly, the scruffy looking parrot on your shoulder squaks: “#fail!”

Quantity verses quality

Skulduggery aside, the amount of cards collected isn’t a measure success, but rather of good will. Business cards don’t not equal a sales opportunity every time.

Before participating in the event, had you developed a qualification sheet? A quickly drawn up grid box with space for notes will do fine. What do we want to know at a glance? What notes should we take for a post event follow-up? Why not try this?:

The “BANT” (Budget, Authority, Need, Time)

  • Product or service concerned
  • Stage in the buying cycle
  • Documentation taken at kiosk
  • Information searched for
  • Identified need
  • People involved and purchasing process
  • Time horizon of the purchase project
  • Interest on a scale of 1 to 5, decision-making level, etc.
  • Budget
  • Is the lead hot or not? Why?
  • Next steps and when.

It’s much better than a “call back” note scribbled on a card…

Data entry

It’s Monday. When will you have your data entered into you CRM with the campaign source, notes, different actions to take and when to initiate a reminder? Why even wait for your return to the office(and risk more parrot abuse)?

The minimum would be to have the card data entered into the system while you were still on site. Send photos of the cards taken during the event to a resource person (or parrot) at your office for input; this is possible in most cases. The faster the data is entered, the better.

Response time and actions

It’s now the next business day, post trade show. What actions are you planning to take? A follow-up telephone call to potential prospects? What about the other people you met? Sending a thank you email with a call to action to download special documentation, subscribe to your newsletter, or an invite to a 60-minute meeting?

The key is timing. A prospect doesn’t visit a trade show without intentions. Seize the momentum, don’t just sit on your cards; follow up upon your return.


A trade show is one of the most important marketing activities a company can participate in, as much in terms of business development as money.

Getting to the office with a stack of cards, that’s good.

Getting back with only a stack of cards, not good …

So before you jump into a trade show, get ready. And in the best of worlds, get support from professionals, so that your stack of cards is more likely to be a stack of winning opportunities.

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