Trade shows can be a treasure trove of lucrative leads. But, don’t expect to simply exchange contact information and have the lead immediately turn into an active prospect. As the salesperson, it’s up to you to turn those leads into sales (and make that trade show budget worth the dollars spent). In an article for SalesandMarketing.com, Peter Gillett points out that there is a resurgence in trade shows and events, but unfortunately, sellers often waste leads from these events. “… trade shows can result in a bottomless pit of wasted marketing dollars,” he writes. “Too often potential sales leads are left to die a slow death on the showroom floor.”

This “slow death” IS inevitable though. Gillett points out that the trade show should merely be the beginning of your sales activity. He points out that typically, salespeople over-focus on the immediate, “sales-ready” hot leads.

This is a mistake, Gillett notes, because usually these buyers are the very end of their buying cycle. Other competitors are usually involved, and the opportunity to close is pretty low. Instead, salespeople should focus on the leads that are simply warm: Fully-qualified but still very early in the buying process. These warm leads are fully qualified and just waiting for your low-pressure, high quality follow-up. The rub, as he explains, is finding the time to give these leads the attention they need. It’s vital that post-show follow up is thorough and personalized—and this process can take time. “…that individual sales lead goes from being warmed up pre-show, to presented to in the booth, to nurtured until ‘sales ready’ and then bounced out to sales to close the sale and generate that topline revenue for your organization,” Gillett explains.

Keep this in mind for future trade shows so you don’t squander the time, effort and money put into attending. Note who those warm leads are and make them your focus. And most importantly, pledge ample time post-show to follow up.